With aging, illnesses and undeniable medical conditions may arise that require extra attention and consideration to keep health status stable. Your role as the caregiver is valuable when special attention to detail is required. We must always start with self-care while ensuring proper care is being rendered to our loved ones. Yes, the responsibility is huge and at times overwhelming, especially if our aging loved ones have been ill for a long period of time. Considering different methods of providing the required care is a topic I can help you with as you incorporate the total part of caregiving from medical to emotional support.
I often share that each of us must put ourselves in the shoes of those who were once active and vibrant; currently unable to independently do for themselves, and how difficult that must be. The emotional toll of having chronic and debilitating conditions is profound and caregiver support is necessary in providing love and encouragement, that you will be there to support them in a meaningful way. This may be something as simple as reading to your loved one, playing soft music, or talking about the things of their past.
Always validate your loved ones’ feelings and emotions. Keep in mind that mobility issues, due to chronic illnesses, can cause depression. Conditions like heart failure, diabetes with neuropathy, and many respiratory conditions, limit physical activity and mobility. Your assistance is invaluable in conditions like these because loved ones may have struggles moving around the home or even making doctor’s appointments or picking up life-saving medications.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I cannot stress enough that your advocacy is beneficial in multiple ways. From maintaining your health as an informal caregiver to the special attention that is needed for the long-term care of your loved one. We know caregiving duties can be approached in many ways. Just know the conditions of your circumstances. Guard yourself from burnout by asking for help and taking breaks. Be safe! Be well!
Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager; CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.