Caregivers, although highly trained, cannot match the level of attentiveness and proactive care that you can personally provide your loved one with. Being a caregiver for family members is an opportunity to avoid any negligence that an unknown caregiver may subject them to.
A caregiver spends hours assisting their patient with daily tasks such as cooking meals, making appointments, daily exercises, etc, and also ensuring their safety and well-being by providing companionship.
Unfortunately, serving as a caregiver for a family member comes with a price. Most caregivers are obliged to reduce their number of office hours or may have to drop out of their jobs completely to provide quality care for their loved ones.
This may appear like a pretty simple job but is much more complicated than it looks. Caregivers have to first build themself to take care of an individual. It takes a lot of hard work and self-development to finally garner the title of a caregiver.
How to serve your duty as an effective caregiver
To serve as a caregiver, you first have to take care of yourself. It is easy to gear up for a short time but takes a ton of different skills to provide care over a longer period of time. You’ll be much better at it if you first learn to take care of yourself. Some things to remember:
- Set realistic expectations for yourself and your patient
- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and set boundaries for yourself as a caregiver.
- Learn about your patient’s disease
- Learn the skills you need to perform as a caregiver
- Build resilience
- Eat good nutritious food and maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise daily
- Get good sleep of at least 8 hours in a day
- Ask for help from others when needed.
- Take breaks and handover the responsibility to someone else from time to time to avoid falling into the trap of caregiver burnout.
- Reach out to therapists and social workers who offer necessary guidance to caregivers suffering from burnout. Even if you are not suffering from burnout, reach out to them before getting overwhelmed by your emotions.
Showing compassion to a person is first on the list because most patients are in distress due to recovery from their disease. You can tune in to your patient’s distress and help them get rid of it. That is why being empathetic towards people is a must-have quality in a caregiver.
The entire process of day-in and day-out caregiving is going to put any caregiver in testing times and that is the moment when an empathetic caregiver will be able to use their compassion and put themselves in the shoes of their patient. This allows them to enter a zone of non-judgment and attentive care.
For effective caregiving, patience is a prerequisite. It is the finest quality that you must possess.
You must bear it in your mind that your loved one is dependent on you for many things. Owing to their physical and sometimes mental restrictions, they might nag you out of frustration. In these circumstances, you must deal with them with patience.
Caregiving is a very demanding responsibility. While offering your care day in and day out, you may come across several incidents that will test your patience. You must keep yourself calm and composed in every situation.
A caregiver needs to have excellent communication skills. If your client isn’t willing or isn’t able to communicate, you will have to interact with the family to discuss the needs and provide regular updates about their condition. A caregiver most likely has to interact with the doctors too for instructions on their treatment. Plus, talking can be the best medicine as it is one of the best ways a person can express their emotions.
Learn how to explain things
The majority of caregivers serving elderly patients assume that their elderly care recipients have damaged hearing. But, this is not the case every time. You don’t need to raise your voice all the time. Even if your care recipient has hearing issues, be calm and explain whatever you want to explain. Always use a positive tone while speaking with the patient.
Use your voice as a tool to impart compassion, affection, and even anger.
Observe your patient
Talking is not enough. Sometimes, a person can’t convey what’s going in terms of their health, or how they feel. As a caregiver, you have to keep an eye out for any changes in your patient’s condition and behavior. Look out for the non-verbal hints, like their posture, their facial expressions, and body movements, and if you observe any deviation from normalcy, make a note of them in your report and take further action on it.
You also have to be aware of the patient’s surroundings so that you can avoid any kind of misfortune from happening.
Pay attention to your body language too
Apart from paying attention to the patient’s body language, keep your body language in check too. Your posture, your facial expressions, and your body movements impart a message. They may offend or make the patient comfortable.
Monitor your body language while talking to your patient. Show them that you are genuinely concerned about their health and wellness.
It is best to have guidance from a teacher to correct your mistakes. This is because in the case of a caregiver, you just cannot afford to make a mistake as it would involve the health of your patient. Once you become a caregiver, you may have hundreds of questions in your mind. Get these questions answered by talking with other caregivers around you.
Taking care of a person can be the most relaxing job in the world. In the beginning, it can make you apprehensive and worried. But remember, you will find it easier as you sail on with it.
Having a positive attitude will take you a long way. While extending your care to someone, the situation may run out of your hands on more than one occasion. How you react under these circumstances will have a major impact on how the situation turns out.
A positive attitude will help you and your patient to cope with the negative situation in a much better way.
So, stay positive and impart a positive attitude to your patient and every person who is related to the caregiving process.
You are, of course, the primary caregiver, but caregiving is a team effort. Never hesitate in seeking help from the other members of the team, that is, the family members, friends, healthcare team, and volunteers. The other members of the team may have some effective skills that you lack. Conjugate your skill and strength with theirs and offer effective care to the patient.
Allow each member of the team to raise their concerns, share their opinions, and express their emotions. Together impart the best possible care to the patient.
Acquire a proactive approach
Needless to say, having a proactive approach will always give you an upper hand in any condition. Instead of showing your efficiency in managing the last-minute issues, be proactive. Plan everything proactively so that the situation always remains in your control. With this, you will also be able to control the other team members.
Create a list of major responsibilities and order them according to their importance or priority. Once you have a list of tasks, divide them equally among the family members, friends, and other volunteers. While dividing the responsibilities, consider caregiver burnout a major factor, and ensure that every person gets some time off from their responsibility.
Identify the problems and solve them immediately
Identifying the problems at early stages is also a part of being proactive. Identify the loopholes in your caregiving services and solve the problems immediately before they begin to affect your patient.
Seek advice from others, use their inputs, and come up with creative solutions.
Learn about their condition
A caregiver’s responsibility goes way beyond feeding, bathing, and dressing the patient. You will have to understand their medical condition to be able to offer good services to them.
Accompany them to their doctor’s appointment and talk to their doctor about their condition. Educate yourself on their prescription and other therapies and treatment modalities that they take.
Last but not the least
Caregiving is the best way to serve mankind. It is rewarding in its own way. If you are offering your services to your loved one, make sure you do it in the best possible way. Remember, selfless and effortful caregiving is also a skill and you get better at it with time. You learn to sympathize and resonate better with your patient and your empathy deepens with practice.
The above-mentioned tips will help you to optimize your caregiving services and be a very efficient caregiver.