We are honoring caregivers during Stress Awareness Month, with tips, pointers and resources to help you reduce your stress and manage your caregiving duties. Here are some caregiver stress reduction pointers:
Pull together your loved one’s medical and personal records in a systematic way. Organizational tools and systems can help. There are many great caregiver tools online to do so. We use Caregiver’s Touch, which also offers a mobile app for easy access. When you find yourself in the role of caregiver, whether suddenly or over time, it can be challenging to pull together a comprehensive, accurate history. We often assist families with this task, and confirming and organizing relevant information as well as developing a baseline of the client’s health status. An online tool provides better accessibility and can eliminate one more thing for you to think about as a caregiver (“Where is that information?”), but you can also use a notebook or filing system to organize these records if you prefer. In addition to medical history and records, you may find this Document Locator List a handy tool to guide the kind of information you should have handy.
Make sure you get enough “sustenance” to keep you strong for your caregiving role. A great tip from Nicole Levison on StrengthforCaring.com explains the acronym HALT, “It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired and is commonly referred to as a list of the main reasons people overindulge or melt-down. Add “worry” to the factors that can adversely affect you. A good night of rest, a good nutritious meal, and an evening with friends may help you cope with family caregiving!”
Find out about resources to assist. Ask your employer if they offer any eldercare resources—many do through their EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs), whether information and referral or caregiver toolkits and even benefits or workplace accommodations. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging or a geriatric care manager. The best time to do some background research is before a crisis hits. This can be tough when you are busy with completing duties, but even a brief consultation may yield a lot of information and pointers that will make your path smoother.
Break down your concerns and tasks in to lists. Things quickly become overwhelming when you feel stressed, making them seem impossible to tackle. It can help to write down your list of “to dos” and prioritize. Looking at it on paper can make it seem more manageable, and you can identify tasks with which others can assist. You may feel you have to handle certain things yourself, but don’t allow yourself to feel you have to handle it all.
Always schedule time for at least one important activity or passion. The activity could be 30 minutes/day to read or take a walk, attend your book club once/month, meditate, or share lunch with a friend.
In our future posts, we will offer some practical pointers and resources to help you with eldercare tasks. We will also discuss some of the top areas of stress many caregivers face and possible solutions if you are faced with these as well. You can subscribe to our blog feed here or contact us for more information or assistance today.