3 Tips for Improving Your Role as a Caregiver

Article by Margery Pabst

Many of us will assume the role of caregiver at some point in our lives, and the experience can derail our emotional, physical, and financial well-being.  According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, currently one in eight persons, 65% of them women, are caregivers in the United States.*  This statistic is also increasing as families bring loved ones home from care facilities—the result of current economic pressures.  A caregiver is commonly defined as one who provides at least twenty hours of free care per week.

Taking care of ourselves and taking some positive steps while caring for a loved one can result in a more empowered place for personal well-being and effectiveness.  Whether you are currently in a caregiving role or leading a life that is filled with general caring responsibilities for others, consider these three tips for improving your role as a caregiver.

Tip #1 – Express Your Feelings

Keep in touch with your emotional self as you care for others and communicate those feelings directly and dispassionately.  Female caregivers often report that they encourage members of their family to share feelings while they keep their own emotions to themselves.  It’s common to stifle your feelings and focus only on the needs and emotions of your family.  However, expressing your fears, doubts, and needs to the patient, family, and friends is the first step to your own wellbeing.

To better express yourself you can:

Use statements like, “I am scared about the future,” or “I feel so much pressure,” or “I am concerned about making a mistake with the medication.”  Your open acknowledgement will encourage others to be honest and forthright.

Encourage the patient and family members to express honest feelings and concerns. Once out in the open, mutual concerns can be addressed.

The result?  Problems are not allowed to fester, caregiving is more efficient, extra expenses are not incurred, and you may be relieved from needless stress.

Tip #2 – Face Conflicts Head-On

Identifying problems early and dealing with them directly is a good plan.  A family conflict can cost you heartache, productivity, and money.  For example, a typical family conflict often involves not only what treatments are important but also how much money needs to be spent.  One sibling focuses on money being spent while another wants only the best treatment for a parent. If everyone shares concerns and seeks to find common areas of agreement, a strong foundation for dealing with conflict will develop.  The caregiver is the key person to set the stage for that exchange of ideas.

Helpful ways to communicate are:

Plan a family meeting. Bringing a family together as soon as possible is important because caregivers can identify both areas of agreement and disagreement and then can avert some potential conflict while finding compromise in areas of concern.  Disagreement, discussed in a group setting, allows everyone to be heard and to feel included in decision making.

Ask everyone to consider feelings, concerns, and needs ahead of time and even write them down before the meeting.

Be a sleuth and listen for comments that signal current and future points of conflict.  Comments like, “Ray never knew what to do when any of us were sick,” “Mother has always known that I was the one to be trusted,” or “We don’t need to let Helen know about this yet” are red flags for possible conflict to come.

Develop a repertoire of questions and statements to assist in building consensus like “What can all of us agree on?” and “Let’s start with the ideas that are the easiest and move to the most difficult.”

The result?  Conflicts are dealt with early, consensus can develop, and money may be saved.

Tip #3 – Delegate Responsibilities

Seek help by continually building a caregiving community from your network of family, friends, and professional contacts.  As caregivers we can wear ourselves out emotionally, physically, and financially if we attempt to go it alone.  Life is skewed and everything suffers because we can mistakenly think, either out of guilt or from some deep-seated value, that the caring role can be assumed by only one person.

If your tendency is to want control and to do everything yourself, consider the following steps:

Begin with one trusted person and one task and delegate it. Starting small will help to reassure you and will build your confidence with one person who shares your concern and understands the plan for patient care.

Identify your success in terms of your emotional, physical, and financial well-being. (What did you accomplish by delegating?)

Proceed to identify additional trusted family and friends and delegate tasks that match their abilities.

Write down what benefits you, the patient, and your trusted caregivers are receiving as a result of your delegations.

Include professional contacts like your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor in your caregiving community.

The result?  A broader caregiving community of people to help you in one of life’s most stressful roles.

Your professional caregiving community should be advisors who consider you and your needs in the total context of your life.  They are people who will not only want to discuss your finances or legal issues, but will also want to ask about your personal challenges, family issues, and put them into the context of your overall wellbeing.

Don’t let your role as a caregiver derail your emotional, physical, and financial well-being.  Expressing your feelings, dealing with conflicts and expanding your caregiving community with a broader set of contacts may provide you with more peace of mind making you more a more effective caregiver.

*Family Caregiver Alliance, San Francisco, 2006. http://www.caregiver.org

For more information about care giving and the responsibilities of the adult child of aging parents, contact Raleigh Geriatric Care Management.

Many of us will assume the role of caregiver at some point in our lives, and the experience can derail our emotional, physical, and financial well-being.  According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, currently one in eight persons, 65% of them women, are caregivers in the United States.*  This statistic is also increasing as families bring loved ones home from care facilities—the result of current economic pressures.  A caregiver is commonly defined as one who provides at least twenty hours of free care per week.
Taking care of ourselves and taking some positive steps while caring for a loved one can result in a more empowered place for personal well-being and effectiveness.  Whether you are currently in a caregiving role or leading a life that is filled with general caring responsibilities for others, consider these three tips for improving your role as a caregiver.
Tip #1 – Express Your Feelings
Keep in touch with your emotional self as you care for others and communicate those feelings directly and dispassionately.  Female caregivers often report that they encourage members of their family to share feelings while they keep their own emotions to themselves.  It’s common to stifle your feelings and focus only on the needs and emotions of your family.  However, expressing your fears, doubts, and needs to the patient, family, and friends is the first step to your own wellbeing.
To better express yourself you can:
Use statements like, “I am scared about the future,” or “I feel so much pressure,” or “I am concerned about making a mistake with the medication.”  Your open acknowledgement will encourage others to be honest and forthright.
Encourage the patient and family members to express honest feelings and concerns. Once out in the open, mutual concerns can be addressed.
The result?  Problems are not allowed to fester, caregiving is more efficient, extra expenses are not incurred, and you may be relieved from needless stress.
Tip #2 – Face Conflicts Head-On
Identifying problems early and dealing with them directly is a good plan.  A family conflict can cost you heartache, productivity, and money.  For example, a typical family conflict often involves not only what treatments are important but also how much money needs to be spent.  One sibling focuses on money being spent while another wants only the best treatment for a parent. If everyone shares concerns and seeks to find common areas of agreement, a strong foundation for dealing with conflict will develop.  The caregiver is the key person to set the stage for that exchange of ideas.
Helpful ways to communicate are:
Plan a family meeting. Bringing a family together as soon as possible is important because caregivers can identify both areas of agreement and disagreement and then can avert some potential conflict while finding compromise in areas of concern.  Disagreement, discussed in a group setting, allows everyone to be heard and to feel included in decision making.
Ask everyone to consider feelings, concerns, and needs ahead of time and even write them down before the meeting.
Be a sleuth and listen for comments that signal current and future points of conflict.  Comments like, “Ray never knew what to do when any of us were sick,” “Mother has always known that I was the one to be trusted,” or “We don’t need to let Helen know about this yet” are red flags for possible conflict to come.
Develop a repertoire of questions and statements to assist in building consensus like “What can all of us agree on?” and “Let’s start with the ideas that are the easiest and move to the most difficult.”
The result?  Conflicts are dealt with early, consensus can develop, and money may be saved.
Tip #3 – Delegate Responsibilities
Seek help by continually building a caregiving community from your network of family, friends, and professional contacts.  As caregivers we can wear ourselves out emotionally, physically, and financially if we attempt to go it alone.  Life is skewed and everything suffers because we can mistakenly think, either out of guilt or from some deep-seated value, that the caring role can be assumed by only one person.
If your tendency is to want control and to do everything yourself, consider the following steps:
Begin with one trusted person and one task and delegate it. Starting small will help to reassure you and will build your confidence with one person who shares your concern and understands the plan for patient care.
Identify your success in terms of your emotional, physical, and financial well-being. (What did you accomplish by delegating?)
Proceed to identify additional trusted family and friends and delegate tasks that match their abilities.
Write down what benefits you, the patient, and your trusted caregivers are receiving as a result of your delegations.
Include professional contacts like your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor in your caregiving community.
The result?  A broader caregiving community of people to help you in one of life’s most stressful roles.
Your professional caregiving community should be advisors who consider you and your needs in the total context of your life.  They are people who will not only want to discuss your finances or legal issues, but will also want to ask about your personal challenges, family issues, and put them into the context of your overall wellbeing.
Don’t let your role as a caregiver derail your emotional, physical, and financial well-being.  Expressing your feelings, dealing with conflicts and expanding your caregiving community with a broader set of contacts may provide you with more peace of mind making you more a more effective caregiver.
*Family Caregiver Alliance, San Francisco, 2006. http://www.caregiver.Many of us will assume the role of caregiver at some point in our lives, and the experience can derail our emotional, physical, and financial well-being.  According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, currently one in eight persons, 65% of them women, are caregivers in the United States.*  This statistic is also increasing as families bring loved ones home from care facilities—the result of current economic pressures.  A caregiver is commonly defined as one who provides at least twenty hours of free care per week.
Taking care of ourselves and taking some positive steps while caring for a loved one can result in a more empowered place for personal well-being and effectiveness.  Whether you are currently in a caregiving role or leading a life that is filled with general caring responsibilities for others, consider these three tips for improving your role as a caregiver.
Tip #1 – Express Your Feelings
Keep in touch with your emotional self as you care for others and communicate those feelings directly and dispassionately.  Female caregivers often report that they encourage members of their family to share feelings while they keep their own emotions to themselves.  It’s common to stifle your feelings and focus only on the needs and emotions of your family.  However, expressing your fears, doubts, and needs to the patient, family, and friends is the first step to your own wellbeing.
To better express yourself you can:
Use statements like, “I am scared about the future,” or “I feel so much pressure,” or “I am concerned about making a mistake with the medication.”  Your open acknowledgement will encourage others to be honest and forthright.
Encourage the patient and family members to express honest feelings and concerns. Once out in the open, mutual concerns can be addressed.
The result?  Problems are not allowed to fester, caregiving is more efficient, extra expenses are not incurred, and you may be relieved from needless stress.
Tip #2 – Face Conflicts Head-On
Identifying problems early and dealing with them directly is a good plan.  A family conflict can cost you heartache, productivity, and money.  For example, a typical family conflict often involves not only what treatments are important but also how much money needs to be spent.  One sibling focuses on money being spent while another wants only the best treatment for a parent. If everyone shares concerns and seeks to find common areas of agreement, a strong foundation for dealing with conflict will develop.  The caregiver is the key person to set the stage for that exchange of ideas.
Helpful ways to communicate are:
Plan a family meeting. Bringing a family together as soon as possible is important because caregivers can identify both areas of agreement and disagreement and then can avert some potential conflict while finding compromise in areas of concern.  Disagreement, discussed in a group setting, allows everyone to be heard and to feel included in decision making.
Ask everyone to consider feelings, concerns, and needs ahead of time and even write them down before the meeting.
Be a sleuth and listen for comments that signal current and future points of conflict.  Comments like, “Ray never knew what to do when any of us were sick,” “Mother has always known that I was the one to be trusted,” or “We don’t need to let Helen know about this yet” are red flags for possible conflict to come.
Develop a repertoire of questions and statements to assist in building consensus like “What can all of us agree on?” and “Let’s start with the ideas that are the easiest and move to the most difficult.”
The result?  Conflicts are dealt with early, consensus can develop, and money may be saved.
Tip #3 – Delegate Responsibilities
Seek help by continually building a caregiving community from your network of family, friends, and professional contacts.  As caregivers we can wear ourselves out emotionally, physically, and financially if we attempt to go it alone.  Life is skewed and everything suffers because we can mistakenly think, either out of guilt or from some deep-seated value, that the caring role can be assumed by only one person.
If your tendency is to want control and to do everything yourself, consider the following steps:
Begin with one trusted person and one task and delegate it. Starting small will help to reassure you and will build your confidence with one person who shares your concern and understands the plan for patient care.
Identify your success in terms of your emotional, physical, and financial well-being. (What did you accomplish by delegating?)
Proceed to identify additional trusted family and friends and delegate tasks that match their abilities.
Write down what benefits you, the patient, and your trusted caregivers are receiving as a result of your delegations.
Include professional contacts like your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor in your caregiving community.
The result?  A broader caregiving community of people to help you in one of life’s most stressful roles.
Your professional caregiving community should be advisors who consider you and your needs in the total context of your life.  They are people who will not only want to discuss your finances or legal issues, but will also want to ask about your personal challenges, family issues, and put them into the context of your overall wellbeing.
Don’t let your role as a caregiver derail your emotional, physical, and financial well-being.  Expressing your feelings, dealing with conflicts and expanding your caregiving community with a broader set of contacts may provide you with more peace of mind making you more a more effective caregiver.
*Family Caregiver Alliance, San Francisco, 2006. http://www.caregiver.org
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Filed under care giving, elder care raleigh nc, Geriatric Care Management, NC, Raleigh, Uncategorized

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