Top 5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Caregiver

Re-posting a SHS article prepared by Sarah Bishop

Becoming a caregiver not only changes your life, but also gives you the opportunity to change so many others’ lives. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves is a beautiful gesture that takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. In order to set yourself up for success it’s important to be primed on what to expect as a caregiver. You’ll also be learning how to take care of yourself just as you do others. Finding the right balance of tending to the needs of others and tending to your own needs can be surprisingly difficult. At first it may feel like you face too much responsibility as a caregiver. Someone else’s happiness and comfort depends on you. Many caregivers unfairly tell themselves that it’s irresponsible to take time off because of this. This is a dangerous path that can lead to exhaustion, and what good will that do all the people you’re trying to help? We at Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home services want all caregivers to know that they are not alone. It’s always okay to know your limits. And it’s always okay to ask for help. Yes, we offer our services to seniors in need 24/7. But we understand our caregivers need a flexible schedule, not to be burnt out from working round the clock. When caregivers are more relaxed, the care they are able to give is higher quality. Our Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers are building lasting friendships with those they care for. If you want to learn how to balance your life to prioritize friendship as well, keep reading:
You can do it on your time.
As the only in-home care provider that focuses on hiring seniors to care for other seniors, we understand that our caregivers have so much to offer when they’re given the chance. If you have the time to help your fellow seniors, we will work together to accommodate your schedule. We’re happy to be able to give our caregivers a flexible schedule, when they’re already giving others so much. You can focus on bringing light into someone else’s life, without the concern that you’ll overextend yourself and burn out your own flame.
According to the National Caregivers Library, it’s important to remember when you’re taking care of someone else you also have to schedule time for yourself. It’s easier for caregivers without the benefit of a flexible schedule to feel overworked and exhausted. You’re facing a lot of responsibility when caring for someone else’s health and wellbeing. Always make a point of setting aside the time to make note of your emotions and take a break. Get ahead of feeling overwhelmed by making sure you’re taking a break regularly, whether you feel like you need one or not.
A great, healthy way to spend time on yourself is to get active. Going for a walk with friends or doing some light yoga is an easy way to deal with stress that has the added benefit of keeping you fit.
You can make money.
Working as a caregiver, it’s incredibly rewarding to see the positive impact you have on others. And as a Seniors Helping Seniors® caregiver, you’re financially rewarded as well. We value the time you’re spending making the world a better place, and we want you to see that value, both spiritually and financially.
If you are an experienced caregiver or just love helping others, we would love to speak to you about supplementing your income as a compassionate caregiver. Our team includes mature, active women and men who have a passion for helping others. Your caring attitude and ability to relate to the challenges posed by aging are most important.
We also have a need for licensed and experienced caregivers who are interested in working with seniors including: RNs, CNAs, HHA, and LPN/LVNs.
You can make friends.
True friends are always there when needed. So are our caregivers. In addition to helping around the home, our caregivers bring cheer and companionship, making our seniors’ daily lives easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable. We help our less active seniors stay independent, allowing them to live the life they want in the comfort of their own homes. Whatever the service and whenever the need we are here to help. This kind of dedication is often the root of a very close and one-of-a-kind friendship.
As senior citizens themselves, our caregivers understand the aging process from their own personal experiences. This allows them to develop unique friendships with their seniors in need based on similarities in age, health, and life experiences – along with the unique Power of Love® we bring to every individual. In addition, we carefully match our caregivers with our seniors in need for compatibility, to deepen the friendships with those served. In-home care should be as comfortable as home itself, beginning with reliable, compassionate caregiving. This is a commitment our caregivers take seriously – and with pride, as they provide service and companionship to their fellow seniors.
If you can relate to the person you’re caring for as a friend, you’re always going to be able to provide better care. So even though this is a job you’re paid for, sometimes you need to remember that the most important things you can do may be the things you do all the time for friends. Listen attentively to what they have to say, laugh with them, and show compassion for their feelings. It’s really that simple.
You don’t have to be perfect.
Our Services can include companionship, light housekeeping, cooking and shopping, personal care, medication reminders, escort to appointments and events, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and more. Trying to be a jack-of-all-trades 24/7 would be exhausting. This is why our caregivers are matched with seniors in need who require the services that our caregivers are confident in handling. Don’t be afraid to be honest about what you can and can’t do. This will help everyone involved in the long run.
Another bonus of having a flexible schedule is being able to take a break when you need one. Caregiving can be both an emotionally and physically demanding job. What is best for your senior in need and yourself will always be to show up well-rested and healthy. So pay attention to what your body is telling you and acknowledge your limits.
As a caregiver it can also feel like it’s your job to be a source of strength for another person, which can be emotionally draining. It’s important to stay in check with your emotions and cope with them properly. The Family Caregiver Alliance® National Center on Caregiving has three tips for successful coping:
Eat right – Some people may use food as a coping mechanism, whether that’s relying on comfort foods or stress-snacking, but good nutrition will be vital to making sure you’re happy and healthy. Limiting alcohol may also keep your mind sharp and wellbeing at its peak performance.
Exercise – It’s often hard for anyone to find the time and the motivation to work out, but just an extra walk in the morning or light stretching and yoga could do wonders for your attitude. Exercise is an easy, natural cure for depression and increases your endorphins (aka the good coping hormones).
Sleep – We all take it for granted, but a solid 7-8 hours is essential for living your best life. It’s important to be able to admit when you’re burnt out and get some help, or a little extra shuteye so that you can do your job refreshed and revitalized.
You’ll have plenty of support behind you.
Our Resources may help you feel more at ease while going through the ups and downs of being a caregiver. It can be incredibly rewarding work, but it also takes an incredible individual to do it. The responsibility of caring for someone’s health and wellbeing can be taxing, which is why it’s so important to also be able to receive a helping hand when you need one. Make things easier for yourself by reading caregiver articles, tips, and forums on how to cope with the stress you may face. The National Caregivers Library has extensive resources on how to care for yourself while you care for others. The Family Caregiver Alliance® National Center on Caregiving is another online source of information, support, and resources for family caregivers of adults with chronic, physical, or cognitive conditions. You can also try the National Alliance for Caregiving, the National Caregiving Foundation, or the Caregiver Action Network. Seeking support from other caregivers is easy when you reach out through any number of the resources we’ve provided. Just remember, you’re never alone!

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