Friday, January 9, 2009

Care For Yourself First;Tips For Caregivers.

People who help their family,friends as caregivers for problems for example;Depression,personality disorders,parkinsonism,stroke,cancer,disabilities, may burn out themselves eventually. Thier role as a caregiver is affected and hinders their mental and physical aability to take care of the person they are looking after.
Here are some points to note:
  • If you feel sad,irritable or angry frequently,look for professional help from the psychiatrist,clinical psychologist,other support groups.
  • Get regular excercise,every day,even for shorter periods.
  • Take time out for the activity you enjoy like reading,listening to music,playing,or any other hobby.
  • If you dont have a hobby go out once a week to meet a friend,the movies,or along walk.
  • Recognise stress and take steps to manage it.(learn techniques for stress management including yoga,meditation etc.)
  • Learn time management;divide tasks you need to do;prioritize them according to urgency,taking time out for oneself everyday is also essential.
  • Also take care of your personal life like job,finances,other responsibilities.Remember looking good is part of the game.Unless you look your best the person you are looking after will not be happy,so take care of your hair,nails,dressing up and overall carry a cheerful expression.sulking and pouting will not help anyone.Smile and see yourself!
  • Do not ignore other important relationships,learn to give time and attention to them also.Keep your emotions in context.
  • Learn to acknowledge and understand your limitations.Do not try to give more than you canor you will face a burn out.Remember if you are well then only can you take care of someone else.Keep everything in perspective.
  • Learn to empower the person you are helping.For example if a person has Parkinson's disease,help him to learn to be independant,by giving him support and tools.Empowerment needs the tasks to be made simplee,achievable in sequences for example;
  • Divide tasks like eating food:getting plate, spoon out,putting food on table,putting food on plate,eating slowly and steadily,putting plates away etc.
  • Provide enough modifications and tools for the patients to achieve their objectives,simple things like plate guards,special spoons as in case of parkinson's.
  • Do not try to be perfect.Allow for mistakes.Better still,learn to laugh at mistakes.A good sense of humour can take you past the greatest of obstacles.
  • Respect the person's independance,self respect and personality.Do not become a mother,father or school marm.Learn to let others live with dignity.
  • Give the person taken care of some sense of achievement like looking after a pet or a plant. There is evidence that nurturing helps in cure.
  • Always give tasks which the person may achieve.Identify their abilities.You cannot ask a person with Parkinsonism to wash the car!
  • Always make sure that the person achieves his tasks by not taking too much risks.Give friendly and safe tools and objects.

in the end,it has to be emphasised that the object of the whole excercise of caregiving is almost spiritual,ethereal,but we as humans have to keep in mind our limitations in order to achieve this higher goal.Be proactive,be optimistic,have a good sense of humour.Keep smiling!

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