Becoming a Confident Caregiver

Just when you think you’ve got things all figured out, life has a tendency to throw you a curveball.  You may find yourself in a steady rhythm of your day-to-day responsibilities, finding just the right balance between work and play.  Or perhaps, exciting changes are taking place; you’re starting a new career, entering retirement, beginning a new relationship, or building a family.  These are usually welcomed changes that come with a sense of excitement and achievement.  However, despite your best laid plans, sometimes other plans are in store for you.  Out of nowhere, you may find yourself taking on a new role and title– caregiver.  Such a sudden change can come with overwhelming emotions and a drastic detour from your otherwise straight trajectory.  Without the proper tools and mindset, you can lose yourself, your patience, and the grace needed to lovingly fulfill this role.  If you find yourself stepping into this role for the first time, here are a few tips to help you confidently care for your loved one.


  1. Take Care of Yourself

First and foremost, you must care for your own needs.  Anyone who has ever traveled by plane has heard the flight attendant explain during the pre-flight directions that you must first secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.  This metaphor for self-care is of the utmost importance. It’s easy to lose sight of your own health when making someone else’s health your primary focus.  Without proper self-care, you can easily exhaust yourself and fall victim to depression, stress, and anxiety.  Furthermore, you can experience burnout, preventing you from being the best caregiver that you can be.  So, make sure to carve out some personal time and tend to your own health by attending routine doctor’s appointments, incorporating exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.


  1. Maintain & Build Relationships

It’s easy to get caught up and all-consumed with the role of caregiver if you allow yourself to.  Maintaining relationships that existed before becoming a caregiver provide you the opportunity to not only keep your sense of self, but they also provide you with the support needed to be a confident caregiver.  Those closest to you have likely provided you with years of love, laughter, and support; such qualities are needed now more than ever.

Meet other individuals who are in a similar role and can provide guidance, understanding, and support.  Support groups, whether online or in person, can connect you with other people who are in all different stages of providing support.  Join together with experienced caregivers who can provide knowledge and insight, as well as new caregivers who you can embark on this journey with together.


  1. Establish a Routine

Without a doubt, there will be a learning curve and some trial and error to find a routine that works for you and your loved one.  However, implementing a daily routine and getting organized is beneficial for all involved parties. Setting clear expectations, scheduling appointments and keeping a calendar of events, and prioritizing needs are all steps you can take to develop a clear and concise routine.


  1. Allow Others to Assist

As hard as it may be to accept help, it is necessary in order to be a successful caregiver.  Help can come from other loved ones or from services that assist with some of the responsibilities.  Family and friends will often reach out in times of need, with the best of intentions, offering to “help out in any way!”.  However, sometimes you are so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to direct or delegate the help.  Get in the habitat of keeping a list of chores, appointments, tasks, etc. that need to be accomplished.  Then, when someone reaches out and offers their help, you have a list to reference.

Home care is a great option to help alleviate the constant need for your personal support.  With this service, an individual can come into your home and assist your loved one with day-to-day tasks including meal prep, light housekeeping, transportation, activities, and companionship.


  1. Be Kind to Yourself

You won’t always get it right.  Some days you will grow frustrated, say the wrong things, and do the wrong things.  You may even have occasions where you feel overwhelmed, defeated, and resentful.  Remember, you are human, and we all have moments of weakness where we fall short.  Take a minute for yourself, recollect your thoughts, forgive yourself, and start fresh.  Get back up on your feet and show yourself grace.