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Monday, 30 April 2018 00:00

New to caregiving? Here’s what you need to know

If you’re new to caregiving, first and foremost –welcome. Your journey through caregiving will be filled with a fair share of ups and downs, but most of all, it can turn out to be one of the most fulfilling commitments of your life.

However, there are a few insider tips and tricks on how to maintain your own sense of self and manage your daily tasks without becoming quickly overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that caregiver burnout is a real thing and can easily sneak up on you if you fail to keep tabs on your own well-being as well as your care receiver’s.

As you set off on your journey into the world of caregiving, here are a few factors to keep in mind as you settle in:

1. Establish your boundaries

Setting boundaries around the care taking of someone you love can be an overwhelming and complicated task. Very often it’s far too easy to cave in and commit to whatever a spouse, parent or sibling is asking of you, no matter how taxing. This is where caregiver burnout can sneak up on before you even know it.

One of the first things to do as a new caregiver is to established your boundaries from the get-go. You will need to distinguish between your own needs and those of your care receiver. Setting boundaries is a reminder to your loved one that you are both adults who have needs. This will help to establish a mutual respect and understanding throughout your caregiving journey.

2. Remain flexible as you settle into caregiving

Rigid things tend to break over time, it’s only natural. You will need to remember that flexibility in the beginning stages of caregiving is paramount to surviving this stressful time. Remain flexible with your care plan – if you are needed for longer hours than you planned, you may just need to cancel previous arrangements with friends or your spouse.

It’s important to keep in mind that the journey into caregiving doesn’t always go to plan and there will be a number of things to learn along the way. Being flexible in your approach can go a long way to saving both your own and your loved one’s sanity and respect.

3. Research different types of support available to you

In the caregiving world, you are most certainly not alone. In fact, there are far more resources available to you than you’d expect, you just have to do a little research and learn where to reach out when needed.

While some of these resources may be on the expensive or unattainable side, many are free and completely willing to offer support. Just a few of these include:

  • Local charities and churches
  • Government organisations and their ­websites
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia communities
  • Local hospitals and rehabilitation centres
  • Religious organisations
  • Local nursing homes
  • Online caregiver support groups

Undoubtedly, one of the best places you can find support as a new caregiver is from the same type of people who do what you do, day in and day out. Join a local support group for caregivers and remember to rely on family and friends when you need it the most – that is what they are there for. Ultimately, being a caregiver is about looking after yourself just as much as your loved one.

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