What does being a Family Caregiver mean to you? This concept means different things to different people. If you are retired, or if you don’t work full-time, you might be able to devote many hours to caring for a loved one. If you live far away or work full-time in a demanding job, you probably need to involve others in your care plan. If your loved one’s needs advanced care beyond your capabilities, or if you are sick or injured yourself, you will need to modify your care plan to supplement or replace the care you have been giving. The key word in all of these scenarios is FLEXIBILITY.
Flexibility is the hallmark of a champion Family Caregiver. When you take each day as it comes, and deal with each challenging situation as it arises, you will find yourself developing strategies that work most of the time. And if the same technique does not work every time, then have a couple of backup ideas. Through practice with what works and what doesn’t, you can hone your skills and refine your playbook.
Just like with any serious athlete, it takes courage for a Family Caregiver to get up day after day and start all over again. Because one day is never like the next, you always have an opportunity to build on the good moments and minimize the hard ones. Your courage to work through good times and bad, to step back when necessary and regroup, to try new ideas when routines fail you, and to accept your failures when they occur establishes a foundation for winning at caregiving.
In addition to your efforts, remember that victorious caregiving is a team sport. While the Family Caregiver’s role can feel terribly isolated, your game plan should include others who care for you and will offer help before you are at the end of your rope! Just like any championship sports team, you probably also have people on your bench who are just waiting for the opportunity to assist. Accept their help when it is offered, and ask for it when you need help. Take breaks to regain some balance in your own life. Utilize a professional caregiving service like Home Instead Senior Care if you need additional resources. It takes a team to support a winning Family Caregiver, and your team can make you a superstar at giving care.
When you are a Family Caregiver, one thing is certain: every day is different, and each one holds its own challenges. Your championship strategy is to remain flexible, practice what works, step into your caregiver role with courage and confidence, and involve others when you need them. Courage, consistent practice, and a great game plan will carry you all the way to win every day at caregiving!