Often when someone becomes a caregiver for a loved one, it is a role that they find themselves thrust into unexpectedly. It also can be a gradual thing, stopping by to make your parents dinner or help them with their laundry, and you suddenly realize one night that you have become their caregiver. It is not an easy role to fill, and you might be wondering what you can do to be a supportive caregiver. Here, we will look at four things you can do to become a supportive caregiver.
Help Build Their Confidence
If the person you are caring for is going through treatment, they might be feeling helpless and lack confidence in trying to do something. You can be a supportive caregiver by helping them build confidence in themselves to get through tasks.
If you are caring for someone who has mobility issues, they may not feel confident that they can take a few steps to get to the bathroom. By encouraging them that they can do it and working with them to be positive you can help build their confidence. Keep reinforcing the idea and remind them that if they could do it yesterday, they can do it today too.
For someone going through chemotherapy who has no appetite, encourage them to take some sips of water to keep them hydrated, even if the chemo is making them too queasy to eat. The next time you try to get them to drink some water or eat soup, remind them that they can do this, even if they feel like they cannot. Keep reinforcing the idea with encouragement that they were able to get some water down earlier, so they can do it again now.
While this might seem like a fairly small thing to do, it is an important one, because it helps the person you are caring for feel like they can get through this.
Act When They Need You To
Humans are stubborn by nature, and many of us are not going to ask for help, even if we know we need it; even if there is a person right there who can help us. So, do not give someone the line to tell you if there is something you can do to help them. If you see that they are struggling to sit up on their own, help brace them, even if they did not ask you to. If the person you are caring for seems to be a little unsteady on their feet or is having trouble opening something, jump in and help them instead of waiting. Eventually, after seeing you help them repeatedly without being asked, they might become comfortable enough with accepting your help that they will start asking for it when they need it.
Telling someone to let you know if they need help is a nice gesture, but being a supportive caregiver means you need to help whether they ask you to or not. Avoid gestures in this case; actions truly will speak louder than words.
Stay Positive and Encouraging
Caregiving is hard work, especially when you are watching someone you love deteriorate before your eyes. It can be hard to stay positive in those instances, but you need to for the sake of the person you are caring for. You might not be able to control the circumstances of what is happening to them, but you can control your reactions. Remaining positive can be difficult, which is why you need to have your own emotional support system in place to help you sort through your feelings.
Offer encouragement to the person you are caring for, even when you feel like the situation is hopeless. It can help keep them calm and feel like things are okay and may get better. Be empathetic, and try putting yourself in their shoes.
Practice Self Care
You may be the caregiver for this person, but you cannot neglect yourself in the process of taking care of them. If you are working full time, caring for someone, and juggling a family life of your own, you do not have much time to sleep or relax. Over time, this is going to run you down, and you will begin suffering in some aspects of your life. You need to take care of yourself in order to be a supportive caregiver.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses as a caregiver and when you need to ask for help. That stubborn nature mentioned above comes into play for you as the caregiver too. You may not want to ask for help, but sometimes you need to have someone else help you shoulder the burden, so you do not burn yourself out.
Create a schedule that gives you one day completely off from caregiving, work, and other responsibilities. Spend that day relaxing and doing what you want to do. Yes, the person you are caring for needs you, but if you are running yourself ragged, you will not be able to provide the care they need. You need to take some time for yourself in order to be the best caregiver you can be.