Over 65 million Americans, primarily women — with the number of men increasing rapidly — provide unpaid care to loved ones.
Many take over these duties suddenly as a result of a traumatic event, such as an illness, injury, new diagnosis, or hospitalization.
Most new caregivers are unprepared for the role into which they are thrust, taking on responsibility for caring for older adults.
It is important that caregivers don’t let the physical and emotional strain lead to illness, depression and injury for themselves.
Rosalyn Carter said it best,
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Many of us will be caregivers soon, if we aren’t already.
Some may be in the sandwich generation, caring now for seniors when they are still caring for their children or adult children who are still living at home. This has been termed triple decker sandwich caregivers (sandwiched in between others).
If you find yourself a caregiver, it is important to care for yourself as well, so that you can sustain all the duties required by those who are depending on you to care for them.
Tips for New Caregivers
Here are some tips we are reminded about by author Tory Zellick in an article published by the HuffPost50.
- Build a team: Form your network of people who can assist you with caregiving duties, household chores or emotional support. Being a good caregiver starts with knowing when and who to ask for help. Having these people available, especially in an emergency, will help you cope. Someone from your network can also help provide you much needed respite so you can continue being a strong caregiver.
- Get organized: You will be buried in a mountain of paperwork, including insurance information, medical forms, bills, medication lists, and more. Creating a system to keep it all straight and accessible will help you in the long run. You can use technology to help you organize health information and lists that will constantly need updating. Be sure to have access to your senior’s advance directives, too, using technology.
- Take care of yourself! We can’t say that enough. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, stay connected with other parts of your life besides your caregiving duties, and seek out ways to relieve your stress. Caring for yourself allows you to care for others. As they say at the beginning of an airline flight, ‘put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.’
We feel strongly that caregivers needs support and tips to make their journey easier so we have want to share with you a variety of topics that support family caregivers we hope you will enjoy!
- Gift of Time for Family Caregivers — Who Just Can’t Get Enough of It
- Family Caregiver, Care for Yourself to Be at Your Best in Caring for Others
- 10 Steps for Caregivers to Build a Strong and Effective Network
- New Ways of Supporting Family Caregivers in Caring for Seniors
- Who’s Caring for the Caregiver in the Middle of the Triple Decker Sandwich?