Linda is exhausted. She wakes up at 5:45 every morning and drives 35 minutes to her 83-year-old mother’s home. Evelyn, Linda’s mother, struggles with a host of health issues, namely dementia and osteoporosis. Linda assists mom with showering and getting ready for the day, cleaning the house, fixing breakfast, and aids in medication management
By 8:00 it is time for Linda to commute to work. Her co-workers are wholly unaware that their fellow employee has an additional full-time job outside of the office. At the end of the day Linda travels back to her mother’s house to fix dinner and prepare her for bed. Afterward, Linda is finally able to return home to her husband and three children, knowing that once morning comes and the alarm clock chimes again, she will do it all over again.
Linda’s work is one of love and compassion. But even tasks done under the most honorable of motivations can be physically taxing, emotionally draining, and mentally exhausting.
Family caregiving is growing more commonplace as baby boomers age and combine work in the paid labor force with unpaid work as caregivers. Utah is among the top four states in the country with a population growth of people age 80-plus. Unfortunately, Utah ranks in the bottom fifth of all states in legal and system supports for family caregiving. Utah is also third-to-last in the percentage of family caregivers without excessive worry or stress and enough time to rest.
Advances in medicine and nutrition coupled with increases in standard of living have been a boon to longer life expectancy. Caregivers have a vital role to play in aiding the elderly community. Here are some tips to assist caregivers in their task ahead:
1. Put Your Physical Needs First
Caregivers often put so much emphasis on caring for others that they forget to care for themselves. Don’t forget the basics: eat healthy, sleep well, exercise, and schedule medical checkups as necessary. You can’t be much help if you are in need of care yourself.
2. Find Time to Relax
Doing something you enjoy, such as reading, walking, or listening to music can recharge your batteries.
3. Get Organized
Simple tools like calendars and to-do-lists can help you prioritize your responsibilities.
4. Just Say No
Accept the fact that you simply can’t do everything and resist the urge to take on additional activities, projects, or financial obligations.
5. Stay Positive
Instead of dwelling on what you can’t do, or the toughness of the situation, focus on the reward you receive from caring for someone that you love.
6. Call on Community Resources
Home health aides, homemakers, home repair services, and volunteers from civic or religious organizations can shoulder some of the many responsibilities on your plate.
All caregivers should know that they are not alone and there is always a solution for whatever caregiving dilemma they face. It is a grand and meaningful service you are providing. Don’t forgot how great you are for stepping up and being willing to serve another!