The decision to be a caregiver for a family member is often made from both love and necessity. Once you have accepted the diagnosis and processed the realities of your new situation, the day-to-day of being a caregiver can be relentless and, at times, lonely.
Caregiving should be approached as a marathon rather than a sprint. Here are some ideas for setting yourself up to ensure you have the stamina to run a strong race.
Build a community
It is important for both you as the caregiver but also your loved one to have a strong support community in place. It allows you the opportunity for some respite and your loved one the opportunity to interact with others.
Some of the ways you can build that community include:
- When family & friends offer help – take it! Look at where their strengths lie and ask them where they would like to assist (transport, meals, finances, and paperwork, or just spending time each week with your loved one reading, watching TV, or playing games).
- Join a support group related to the condition your loved one has been diagnosed with. They can provide online information, group chat-based support, and in some instances in-person engagement.
- Connect with care & support workers in your community through an accredited agency like Real Community Services to design a tailored support program
- Make technology your friend – set up a WhatsApp group to communicate with your community. Or if tech is not your thing, enlist one of your family or friends to set it up for you.
Invest in You
Turning up each day as the best version of yourself is no easy task. To make sure you’re able to do this, invest in yourself and make sure you have windows of time dedicated to your self-care.
- Improving your mental health can be as simple as a walk around the block, getting out of bed 15 minutes earlier to meditate, or sitting quietly with a tea or coffee before the day begins.
- Open a window into the world through podcasts. There is almost no topic uncovered in podcasting. Whether you want to escape with comedy, follow news, true crime, sports, health & fitness, history, arts, education, science, technology, music, fiction, or TV & film. You can listen whilst driving, as you work around the house – find podcasts for you or one you can enjoy with your loved one. Here are some that are about caregiving…
- Have you heard of the saying, “light the good candle”? It’s about seizing the moment – don’t save your best china when using it each day would bring pleasure – stop waiting and start enjoying the little things in life that you tell yourself are only for special occasions.
Whether you’re a caregiver on a full-time basis or juggling it with your career, ensuring you have a support system for yourself as well as your loved one is essential. The team at Real Community Services works across south-east Queensland to help realise your goals and build a life full of possibilities.