Today’s post, “Caregivers Choose Hope” was written by my amazing friend Melissa, who lost her husband to cancer a number of years ago. The words are hers, their intent is universal – hope and help are the key to dealing with many life situations. Melissa wrote them as part of her activities for this past Friday’s Relay for Life in Fort Myers, Florida.
It is truly my honor to be able to share them with you. (Please note the photo in this post is not the one Melissa used, I didn’t have hers, but thought this one shared her kind and caring ways.)
“For the Relay event, I have put together a handout. The tips are printed on purple paper and each one has a second page attached. It is a large hand print outline. With each packet there is a small ribbon magnet that says ‘Caregivers Choose Hope’.
The purpose of the hand print is for someone to write on the hand something they will do for a caregiver. They can then present the packet to the person. Or, a caregiver may take the packet and write something they NEED for someone to do. They can acknowledge it is okay to ask for help. Then taking the next step, they can share their need with whomever they are comfortable.
Caregiver Support Tips
As a Caregiver you may find yourself facing new responsibilities; many of which are unfamiliar or intimidating. You may feel overwhelmed and alone. But despite its challenges, care giving can also be rewarding. And, there are a lot of things you can do to make the care giving process easier for both you and your loved one. These tips can help you get the support you need while caring for someone you love.
Tip 1: Accept your feelings
Care giving can trigger many difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and grief. It’s important to acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling. Don’t beat yourself up over your doubts. These feelings don’t mean that you don’t love your family member—they simply mean you’re human. In order to deal with your feelings, it’s important to talk about them. Find at least one person you trust to confide in.
Tip 2: Don’t try to do it all – Ask for and accept help
Even if you’re the primary family caregiver, you can’t do everything on your own. You’ll need help from friends, siblings, and other family members, as well as health professionals. If you don’t get the support you need, you’ll quickly burn out—which will compromise your ability to provide care.
Take some time to list all the care giving tasks required. Then determine which activities you are able to meet (be realistic about your capabilities and time). The remaining tasks on the list are ones you’ll need to ask others to help you with.
Tip 3: Take care of your own needs
While you’re caring for your loved one, don’t forget about your own needs. Caregivers need care too.
- Find something to laugh about everyday.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Keep a journal to express feelings; give yourself permission to cry.
- Take a break everyday.
- Listen to music or utilize other relaxation techniques.
- Watch for signs of depression and keep regular checkups with your own doctor.
Tip 4: Take advantage of community services
Find Caregiver services in your community, utilize family member affiliations; churches, temples, fraternal organizations.
Tip 5: Balance work and care giving
- Learn your company’s policies (talk to your company’s Human Resources department).
- Know your rights (Family & Medical Leave Act).
- Talk to your manager.
- Inquire about flex time. (Ask about the possibility of working from home once or twice a week so you can also perform your care giving duties.)
- Say thank you to coworkers.”
Special thanks to Melissa and to her family and friends for sharing and caring in so many wonderful ways.