Did you know about 1 in 3 adults in the United States provides care to other adults as informal caregivers – and that number is growing? Our team at Cypress Lawn meets with San Francisco Bay Area families every day who have cared for a loved one and are familiar with the rewards and challenges that come with the role. Even in the midst of the medical tasks, errand running, appointments, and other routine tasks, thing must be remembered: You must take care of yourself in order to take care of someone else.
To be sure, providing care for a loved one doesn’t come with a how-to guide, and if you’re in that position, you might be untrained for the many responsibilities that are involved. If you need some help and support, consider these useful tips on managing caregiving and your life in the midst of it:
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. Many caregivers are new to the role, and don’t recognize when they should slow down, take a break, or share responsibilities. Are there people in your life who can step in to help? Friends, family, or professionals? It’s important for you to feel refreshed so you don’t get overwhelmed and depleted – which can happen quickly and without warning.
- Join a caregiving support group. When providing care, it’s common to feel you have to be “everything to everyone.” A support group will encourage you to set healthy limits, ask for help, and manage emotions including anxiety, fear, and loneliness.
- Organize personal documents and medical information so it’s easy to find. Whether paper, electronic, or a combination of both, having easy access to an up-to-date medical history, list of medications, insurance information, and legal documents is a must.
- Utilize the help of experts. Reach out to other caregivers for help and advice. Find out what resources are available in your community for caregivers. Consult with attorney on estate planning. You can always come to us if you have questions about putting final arrangements into place.
- Be sure you’re included in your loved one’s plan of care. Often, doctors will talk to a patient about issues, but leave the caregiver in the dark. It’s crucial for you to be aware of the details surrounding medications, therapy, and follow-up appointments.
- Balance the demands of caregiving with socializing, exercise, and taking breaks. While regular trips to the gym or weekend getaways may be unrealistic, carve out an hour or even 30 minutes to chat with a friend, go on a walk, read, or enjoy a hobby. It’s amazing the difference this can make.
Today, we want to remind our caregiving neighbors in the Bay Area that they are not alone. November is National Caregiver Month – a time to recognize and thank those who selflessly serve an aging or ill loved one. If you know someone who is a caregiver, we encourage you to reach out to them to see how you can help them – perhaps they might simply need a break, or you could take the out for a meal to give them some relaxation.
If you are a caregiver, be sure you’re taking the time you need to recharge your battery. And don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
No matter how much time you invest caring for a loved one, there will be ups and downs – and our caring Cypress Lawn team may be able to help you or connect you with someone who can. Check out our Caregiving Corner for a variety of resources, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or in person. Your role is an important one, and we’re here to support you in it.