Dear Donna,

I am my dad’s primary caregiver, but lately I have been struggling with the stress and to-do list of caregiving.

Do you have any advice that can help me while still respecting his personal needs?

Barbara in Grand Rapids

Tips for Making Caregiving a Little Easier

Dear Barbara,

Caregiving is a big job, and it certainly gets stressful. Fortunately, the right approach to your role can make things easier. Here are a few ways you can improve your caregiving while still preserving your loved one’s dignity.

  1. Let your loved one do what they can.

Reduce feelings of stress and burnout by letting your loved one do as much as possible. This not only reduces your workload but lets them preserve some independence.

Whenever possible, you should let an aging family member make their own choices, such as what to wear or when to eat.

If your elder loved one lives independently, look for changes you can make in their home to help them stay independent. For example, installing additional safety bars can help them get around.

Consult with your loved one about their wishes for housing, medical care, and other important choices. As a caregiver, seek to be your loved one’s advocate, not to take over their life.

If you are not sure about how much choice to give, talk to your loved one’s primary health provider. They may be able to provide more insight or suggestions.

  1. Get extra help before it’s needed.

Illness and other emergencies may prevent you from caring for your loved one. If that happens, do you know who to call? If not, it’s time to start asking other family, friends, and community resources for help. This will allow you to have a back-up plan in case of emergency.

Create a list of people and organizations you can reach out to. For example, ask other relatives to help out with regular tasks like lawn care or transportation. Search local groups for things like meal deliveries, home health visits, or social activities.

  1. Be patient and flexible with yourself and your loved one.

As a caregiver, you will make mistakes sometimes. When that happens, you can acknowledge them, learn from them, and forgive yourself. In your journey as a caregiver, you can get better at making decisions and understanding your loved one’s needs.

When you feel impatient with your loved one, remember what they are experiencing. Aging is a frightening and frustrating process, so be patient as you and your loved one face many changes. Things may not always go according to plan, and that is okay.

You can become a better caregiver.

Being a caregiver does not have to mean that you take over your loved one’s whole life. Respecting their wishes, asking for help, and learning patience can make you a better, more balanced caregiver.

If you need additional help with providing for your loved one’s needs, we are here for you. Contact Heritage Senior Communities to talk about how we can help you provide the best care for your loved one.