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What you can expect

Elderly woman and younger woman talking outside – what to expect when you become a caregiver

Common challanges

A family member. A loved one. A friend.  Caring for them can be a challenge. But you can also find it highly rewarding. 
 
Read about 7 common challenges caregivers face. And get tips on how to overcome them.
1. Your emotions

Life can surprise you. And so can your reactions to those surprises. When taking care of a loved one, if you sometimes feel negative, try not to blame yourself. You’re both in a completely new situation where it’s natural to experience negative emotions, like frustration and anger.

 
It helps to reflect on your feelings. Think of what you could do to avoid the situations that cause negative reactions.
 
By understanding your feelings, you can act more effectively and take better care of your loved one.

2. Mood swings

You might feel fine one moment, then overcome with emotions the next. That’s perfectly normal. Bear in mind that you might also be affected by the mood of the person you’re taking care of.

 
As a caregiver, you’re closely connected to that person. Your mood could swing from love to anger, or from optimism to pessimism. It's best to accept these negative feelings and let them pass. You can help ease them simply by focusing on the activity of caring for your loved one.
 
Here’s a tip: when you experience an unpleasant mood swing, try pausing for a moment, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. Also, if you can, take a five-minute break from your caring. Both those things will help you feel better. Which will make you a better caregiver.

3. Isolation

You may feel isolated at times. That’s understandable. You can help yourself overcome a sense of isolation by sharing your feelings with others.

 
Remember: while the people around you probably have good intentions they might not know how to help. Or they might be afraid to approach you. So talk about your caregiving duties openly, without trying to win any sympathy. Listeners are more than likely to offer the help you need to look after your loved one.

4. Communication issues

To help someone, you need to understand them. That can be difficult if the person you care for is mentally impaired with, say, Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

 
At such times, try to stay calm. Explain yourself, or ask for the person you care for to explain herself or himself, as many times as it takes for the two of you to understand each other.
 
Patience helps overcome misunderstandings and the stress of bad communication. And it makes you a better caregiver.

5. Time-management problems

Caregivers are multitaskers, whether or not they want to be.  That’s why it’s important to  manage your time more effectively. Then  you can conserve your energy.

 
If you need more time, plan your daily and weekly responsibilities. Create a list of key tasks, and reserve time off for yourself.
 
If you need more energy, change your diet, making sure you get enough vitamins. Try to fit an exercise session into your daily routine - and get extra sleep.
 
These simple guidelines will help to give you a more positive attitude and boost your energy so that you can give your loved one the best possible care.

6. Don’t neglect your own needs

When you care for someone, it’s easy to forget about yourself. You might skip meals. Or sleep less. Or exercise less. All so that you can devote more time to caring for your loved one.

 
That will have the opposite effect from the one you want. You’ll be too tired, too unfit to provide good, effective care. Always remember to look after yourself by:
  • eating regular meals;
  • getting a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours) every night;
  • exercising regularly;
Even if  there is no limit to the amount and quality of care you want to offer to your loved one, it is important not to neglect yourself.
 
And try to make some free time for yourself in your weekly work plan.
 
When you take good care of yourself:
  • you find it easier to care for your loved one;
  • you control negative emotions and avoid frustration;
  • the person you care for feels more positive energy.

7. Getting stuck

While every caregiving situation is unique, you can gain helpful insights and tips by discovering other caregivers’ stories and points of view. Knowing what they are going through will help you feel less isolated, and develop your caregiving skills.

 
> Visit Tips from other caregivers to find out more.

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