Being a familial caregiver to a parent or senior member of the family is a very rewarding role – it’s also one that more families must contemplate as the Malaysian population ages. But, as well as the rewarding side of caregiving, it’s also a difficult role, that can be fraught with emotion and occasionally result in upset.
If you’ve chosen to become a caregiver in your family, it’s important to lay down some ground rules, right at the beginning. In the same way that a well-considered and created care plan is helpful to the person receiving the care, setting some ground rules and other planning, are often essential tools to support the caregiver.
Give the Best Care You Can to a Senior
Making the decision to give up certain things in order to help care for another is a selfless act and can make the recipient of that care, feel very special. However, in order to perform the role to the best of your abilities and also to help the person you’re caring for feel loved, rather than like a burden, it is important to share some of the caring.
If you have a regular activity you enjoy doing, then work out a way – as soon as your caregiver role begins – of how you can continue it. In many cases, there are other family members and friends who can help. If there isn’t, then it’s ok to turn to outsiders, charities and other organizations, for some support.
Yes, the mental and physical health and happiness of the person receiving the care is important – but so is that of the caregiver. If a few hours each week of outside help will achieve that, then it’s something that should be done. From day one.
Be Open and Clear
Being open and clear about what’s important to you – aside from providing the best care for your older family member or friend – is a difficult thing for some people. If you do find it hard to assert yourself, remember you won’t be able to give your best, if you’re neglecting your own needs as a caregiver.
And, if you’re not as happy as you usually are, the senior you’re caring for will pick up on that – eventually. That makes it doubly important to have a chat and make appropriate arrangements, right from the beginning.
Remember, asking for help or organizing outside support isn’t a sign of weakness or a lack of care. It’s often the best way to ensure the person you’re caring for gets the very best care – from yourself and anyone else who assists you.
This article is a contribution by Sally Perkins from Shieldmysenior.com, a senior care website which covers topics on caregiver duties