“There will come a time when your loved one will be gone, and you will find comfort in the fact that you were their caregiver” – Karen Coetzer
Caregiving may help to strengthen connections to a loved one. Some people even find joy and fulfilment in looking after others. But for many of us, the strain of caregiving can become overwhelming. Effective caregiving is an art which involves caring for the person medically, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially.
“See yourself living in a perfectly healthy body. Let the doctor look after the disease.” – Bob Proctor
This involves managing medicines and schedules, doctor visits, maintaining good rapport with the doctor, keeping the medical records organized and easily accessible, ensuring that there are no complications due to infection, allergies, bed sores or other problems. When you are sick, even simple issues like constipation or common cold would seem unmanageable. As a caregiver, it is helpful if you understand the illness, its complications, and side-effects of the medicines.
“Our physiology creates disease to give us feedback.” – Dr. John Demartini
Physical care includes everyday tasks such as helping with meals, schedules, bathing, dressing, going to the toilet, physiotherapy, etc. Even when the patient is in the hospital, it is necessary to plan and organize the house and keep it ready for the patient when he gets discharged from the hospital. Choosing a well – ventilated room, installing patient-friendly accessories such as extra handles and anti-slip mats, clearing the clutter and cleaning up can be some of the steps to start with. Planning ahead would help reduce stress and anxiety for the patient as well as the caretaker.
“Disease cannot live in a body that’s in a healthy emotional state.” – Bob Proctor
The patient’s emotional state of mind is as important as the medicines. By providing company and emotional support the caretaker can keep the person happy and motivated, even if the illness is long-term or chronic. It’s actually quite simple – avoid talking about the illness and focus on happier things and events. The person you are caring for has to be surrounded by happy and healthy people so that he receives positive energy from them. The first one should be you, the caregiver. This rub-off effect of your positivity will, in turn, have a great impact on the recovery of your loved one.
“Visualizing is the great secret of success.” – Genevieve Behrend
Caregiving is not only about feeding, bathing, cleaning and giving medicines. Helping the patient visualize a healthier self goes a long way in aiding the recovery process. As we all know, a hospital stay can be quite boring and depressing. It is in the hands of the caregiver to encourage the patient to get well soon and get him out of depression or better still, prevent him from getting depressed in the first place. The caregiver also plays an important role in protecting the patient from negative messages and negative people. See How to be a good hospital visitor for tips on what kind of visitors to allow.
“Life is meant to be abundant, in all areas.” – James Ray
Just knowing that the hospital bills will be taken care of will help the patient recover faster, and I’m not kidding. The caregiver, along with the other family members, should discuss the patient’s hospital insurance, employee benefits, and other sources. Plan ahead for an emergency situation such as post-surgery complications and care. It is better to approach family/friends for financial help in anticipation of unexpected events.
Check out Do you really want to depend on the health-care system? for tips on health insurance and money matters.
Caregiving is tough, no doubt. But knowing that our love and care with a smile makes all the difference to someone we love will make it more than worthwhile. You may be interested in the rest of the caregiving series: self-care, caregiving for cancer, and dementia.
Have you ever had the opportunity to be a caregiver? What are your experiences?