Michael’s parents, Dan and Anne, have always encouraged their kids to chase their own creative passions. Looking after his 90-year-old dad, Dan, whose strokes have left him in need of active care, is a way for Michael to give back. Along with providing medication, processing his food and helping his dad with grooming, a big part of Michael’s care for Dan’s is making sure he has access to his easel: Dan is still a prolific painter despite his limited dexterity. “I don’t think there’s a story I can tell that would really lend credence to how important [he is to me] and how much I really love him.”
When your dad is your whole world, your world is turned upside down when he can't do the things that once defined him. While you'd do anything for the man you cherish and admire, there are so many emotions tied up with stepping into a caregiving role — especially when that role requires help with hands-on personal care, like bathing and grooming.
Like Michael, if you’re one of the 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S.,1 you know that caring for a loved one is both satisfying and exhausting. Keep yourself refreshed and be confident in the care you give by following these tips:
- Have a plan that includes time for yourself. Caregiving is hard work, so it’s important to carve out time to get refreshed throughout the day. If you have a hobby like Michael and love to paint, be sure to fit that in each week. Even taking a few 15-minute breaks in your day to either take a walk or meditate can help you reset, both emotionally and physically.
- Accept offers of help from others. It’s okay to say, “yes, please,” to family and friends when they offer assistance. Be ready with some specific things they can do to help, like going grocery shopping or cooking a meal, to give you back some valuable extra time in your busy day. Plus, your loved one can benefit from having others help out too; each person has their own unique of making a connection. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, too.
- Use products that help you do your job. Be open to new products and technologies that can help make your caregiving tasks easier and quicker. The Gillette® TREO™ is the first razor designed to shave someone else. The blade with a safety comb protects against cuts and the unique handle design provides great comfort and control for caregivers and those being cared for. Dan likes the all-in-one razor with built in shave gel. “It’s nice to have something to give Dad a boost of confidence,” says Michael.
- Join a support group. Talking honestly about your feelings can help reduce stress, anxiety and fatigue. It can also help you improve skills and help you find valuable resources to navigate your caregiving role. You are not alone; members of a support group can help you realize that you are doing the best you can do.
Also of Interest:
1National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015).