Taking care of a sick or aging loved one can be challenging.
Just as a flight attendant instructs parents traveling with children to put on their own oxygen masks before helping their little ones, it’s equally important that caregivers ensure that their own health and well-being are a priority.
Here are five ways to help make the job more manageable:
- Attend a caregiving class to gain both emotional and physical tips needed to care for a loved one, and learn about financial and end-of-life options.
- Learn about advance care planning and the importance of creating an advance health care directive for yourself and your loved ones. Make their wishes known with this legal document that provides instructions about medical treatment in case your loved one is unable to speak for him or herself.
- Register for Project CARE, a free service for seniors or disabled adults who live alone. Grossmont Hospital Senior Resource Center staff, security personnel and volunteers will call your loved one each day. If a call goes unanswered, you or another designated person will be contacted to check on him or her.
- Set up a Vial of Life, a small, magnetized container to store important medical information. Keep it on the refrigerator so emergency medical personnel will have quick access to the information they need upon entering your home.
- Find out if hospice care or a hospice residence is the right option for a chronically ill loved one who is at the end stage of a terminal illness.
Don’t forget to take care of your own physical and mental health, too, including a balanced diet and daily physical activity. Talk with your doctor if the responsibilities of caregiving overwhelm you or begin to take a toll on your health.
As the general population ages and our lifespan increases, the challenge of being a caretaker is often added to our plate. It’s important not to neglect yourself, just as you wouldn’t neglect the loved one in your care. Never hesitate to ask others for help when you need it.