Caring for someone with intense needs can be challenging, but there are always ways to grow. Here is how to become a more effective caregiver.
Caring for others can be a joy, but it can also be a burden—especially if you are a caregiver of someone with immense needs. Your role as a caregiver can be overwhelming at first and difficult to adjust to. However, there are ways to grow as you look out for another person. Here is how to become a more effective caregiver.
It is easy, over time, to learn what to anticipate from someone and their most consistent needs. Though this consistency can come in handy, it does narrow your focus to the things you expect to see. Physical and emotional needs often evolve with a person over time—no health situation is stagnant. Be sure to watch for deteriorating conditions and developing issues. In fact, be sure to learn the early signs of Alzheimer’s and what to do when you notice them. When someone needs a caregiver, it is more than likely a permanent life change, so remain attentive every step of the way and offer compassion as often as you can.
It may sound counterintuitive that spending time with yourself will help you care for someone else, but your well-being matters. Your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the caregiving process can be intense, and you may feel drained. Be sure to set aside time for focused contemplation, silence, exercise, or other calming or rejuvenating activities. Practice keeping a journal to both process and validate your thoughts. It is completely normal to have negative emotions while caregiving. Take time to practice a hobby, hang out with friends, or spend time with other loved ones so that you can keep negativity from turning into resentment.
Your loved one already has a hard time adjusting to and living with their condition each day. Whether they have mental or physical limitations, they are hurting inside and lamenting the things they have lost. Therefore, it is so crucial for you to stay strong and engage positively with them. Of course, this doesn’t mean you put on a fake smile and force yourself to be something you are not. Instead, engage with them authentically and work to grow a positive attitude toward them, even when they are particularly negative. Positive engagement takes practice, but it is a way to be more effective as a caregiver. Positivity is infectious and will brighten their day considerably.
Knowing how to become a more effective caregiver can improve your relationship with your loved one. There may be seeds of resentment, sadness, and exhaustion spreading through your life. However, you can quell these issues with well-placed words, thoughtful actions, and dutiful attentiveness.