Over the course of a generation, family circles have become increasingly dispersed, with loved ones living in different counties, different states, and different countries. On the surface, there are no real problems with this. Technology advances and budget airlines have made the world a much smaller place. Seniors are tech-savvy and video catch-ups and/or virtual social engagements are not bad substitutes to the real-world get-togethers as we’ve found out thanks to Covid-19. But what should happen if you suddenly find yourself needing to become a caregiver for a family member? You need some caregiving tips!
The call you’ve been dreading
So what do you do when, one day, you receive that dreaded phone call informing you that your mother/father has had a fall, or worse? Equally, how do you feel when you can no longer ignore the fact that she or he is showing signs of memory loss? You feel helpless or guilty at best; these feelings are intensified on account of the fact that you don’t live close by. Getting to your parents’ house could entail a long car or plane journey. Just like that, you’re no longer just the loyal son or daughter. You’ve joined the ranks of what the professionals call a “long-distance caregiver”. Becoming a caregiver for a family member is no easy task.
A new vocation
You probably feel totally overwhelmed by this new responsibility but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Thanks to medical advances and more healthy lifestyles we’re all living longer and adult children are having to look out for their parents/relatives/in-laws as a result. This in turn can cause stress and anxiety for both parties. Parents feel guilty about burdening their children and children feel guilty because they don’t live close by. By assuming the role of caregiver you will also become directly involved with many aspects of their daily lives.
Liaising with medical teams or home help services, arranging transport, making sure the bills are paid, that the house and garden are kept tidy etc are just some of the tasks you may need to handle. You’re having to squeeze even more time out of an already tight schedule, and this can take its toll on your mental, physical and professional wellbeing. There are a number of charities and support groups that can support both you and your relatives including:
5 Caregiving tips for transitioning to becoming a caregiver for an elderly loved one
Adjusting to this new caregiving role will present a number of challenges along the way but you may also find it’s the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Below are five caregiving tips to make your transition smoother.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your loved ones about medical, financial, and legal arrangements, and make sure you know who their local health care providers, insurers are. Although it’s hard, try not to avoid sensitive subjects such as wills or power of attorney. Having a handle on these tips upfront will help avoid unnecessary holdups further down the line should your parents’ condition deteriorate.
Determine the particular needs of your loved one(s), with their help if possible. Liaise with wider friends and family members to assess the type of support they might require, and the degree of help needed.
Identify local support circles
These might include, friends, neighbours, charities, clergy members, rabbis, imams etc as well as social and recreational groups. They will all have your loved one’s best interest at heart and will more than likely be willing to do their bit to help and keep you informed.
Explore assistive service options
These might include:
Once you have an idea of the kind of help needed and available, reach out. Take advantage of the help and support they’re able to provide.
Caring for yourself
The most important aspect of any caregiving role is looking after yourself. Don’t be afraid to vent your frustrations and make full use of all available services and support groups. It’s also important to have some respite without feeling guilty about it. Self-care is not selfish!
Smart technology for independent living
Becoming a caregiver can be tough, but technological advances have transformed many aspects of the long-distance caring role. There is an abundance of devices and apps readily available to help seniors live independently as well as provide caregiving tips and support for those who step in to provide elderly care.
One such system is Thriving.ai™. Designed to ease the stress of elderly care, Thriving™ connects elderly parents, families, and professional caregivers, via an easy-to-use app, and offers a wealth of other benefits too. Please try the app and help us make it better and give us your feedback. It’s free for 2 months!
Written By Shainoor Khoja