Being a carer for your relative, whether they are younger or older, can be difficult. It’s especially hard when you are trying to balance your caregiver role with a full-time job and a social life.
No matter how much training and education you have, nothing can prepare you for the significant responsibility of caring for another person. It can be a large change to cope with and it requires recalibration of your life.
Even if you’ve never had prior caregiving experience, you will still be an incredible caregiver to your loved one. You won’t realize your capabilities until you’re thrown into this kind of situation.
Despite being difficult to adjust to your new life as a part-time or full-time caregiver, you will find your feet. You will figure out how to manage your time and balance your schedule so that you can continue to live your own life while helping your loved one in every way possible.
Every person has a unique set of needs. Since you will be caring for a relative, you might already know their individual needs and preferences, which can make the whole process a little easier for both of you.
What’s also great about caring for somebody who is in your family is that you already know each other. You have already built somewhat of a relationship and stepping into a caregiving role will only strengthen your bond even further.
Your relative might already have a professional carer helping them with their daily activities. If you’re stepping in to help provide more intensive care, or you are taking over the professional carer’s role, this article should help you!
We’ve compiled a list of the key skills and qualities that every caregiver should possess and some top tips on how you can be the best carer possible for your loved one.
Consider Aids and Equipment
When you’re a carer, you can use additional tools and equipment to make your job easier. There is a wide range of different aids that you can access nowadays, and they can also be extremely helpful.
If you are registered as an official caregiver, the local authorities might be able to provide you with additional equipment free of charge. You will also be able to apply for permission to make the necessary modifications in your loved one’s home to make daily living easier for them.
Some great tools and equipment include:
- A walk-in shower tub combo
- Walking frames
- Wheelchairs or mobility scooters
Home modifications for you to consider are:
- Widened doorways
- Lowered desktops
You can also rely on services as aids when you’re caring for a loved one. For example, you could set up a meal delivery service, where the company delivers fresh, hot meals to your loved one’s home each day so that they don’t need to cook for themselves.
Other great services to consider are community-based centers that provide a safe space for children and adults to participate in daily activities or leisure centers where you can take your relative to swimming lessons or fitness classes.
Be Empathetic and Gentle
As a carer, it’s important to be patient and empathetic. Your relative might find basic day-to-day tasks difficult, and you must approach them in a caring and gentle manner.
Being a carer can be challenging, and your relative might even be reluctant to receive your help at times. It’s how you approach these situations that make you a great carer.
Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes can be difficult but try as much as possible to be empathetic towards your relative. You would want the same if you were in their shoes.
When you show true care and empathy, you can create a positive environment for your loved one. This will strengthen your relationship and make your role as a caregiver easier and more enjoyable.
When your loved one is relying on you for their daily needs, it’s essential that you are reliable. You should be on time and arrive at their house when you say you will, and you should stick to the plans that you have made with your relative.
For example, if you promised to take them on a day trip at the weekend, don’t cancel the plans at short notice as this might make your loved one feel disappointed, upset, or lonely.
Of course, you can’t always help it if your boss has called you into work or one of your children has an accident and needs to go to the hospital. But wherever possible, try not to rearrange too often with your relative.
If you have a regular schedule where you go to their house three times a week, keep it consistent and visit them at the same time on the same days each week. People tend to like routine and arranging a schedule that works for both of you will be beneficial.
It’s especially important to be reliable when your relative requires help with their activities of daily living, such as eating, washing, and dressing. It’s not ideal to delay meal times or skip bathing for several days!
Being reliable also means that you can build a trusting relationship with your relative and ensures all of their daily needs are being met.
Consider Getting Additional Help
When things get too much and you begin to struggle with finding a balance between your own job, social life, and caregiving responsibilities, it might be time to ask for help. You might want to ask other family members to get involved in the caregiving process or consider getting help from professional carers.
As much as you might enjoy being the sole carer for your relative, you must also take your own needs into account. Being overly stressed with multiple responsibilities can affect your physical and mental health, and it’s not worth risking your own health for the sake of remaining the primary caregiver for your loved one.
Reach out to family members and professionals to see if they can take some of the pressure and responsibility off your shoulders. You can still provide care for your loved one while taking a slight step back.