After more than 20 years helping families with caregiving, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. We understand the struggles caregivers face. To save you some struggles, our experts share the best and worst caregiving methods. We’ll also offer important tips to help you implement positive caregiving methods. Avoid the mistakes by knowing the pitfalls.
Caregiving Methods and Pointers
Wrong: Caregiver Martyrdom
You feel responsible for taking care of your loved one. Unfortunately, some caregivers equate that with doing everything themselves. They sacrifice career, health and other relationships to caregiving. This caregiver might feel that only they can do things right. A caregiving martyr often grows resentful. Additionally, they’re likely to experience caregiver burnout and ill health. In the end, this can be harmful not only to the caregiver, but to the care recipient.
Right: It Takes a Village
Your experience may have shown that no one else can do things the way you do. But, friends, family and professional caregivers can truly be helpful. It’s a matter of setting them up for success. The benefits of delegating tasks outweigh the upfront work. Create the structure and guidance (Click Here to get a respite care preparation checklist). Then, you can focus on the important things and do the best job as a caregiver. Others can actually enrich your loved one’s life too. Having a strong care team relieves stress and keeps you and your care recipient happier.
We call this “collaborative caregiving”. This means bringing the care team together...you, your care recipient, providers, family members and friends/support people. We don’t suggest caregiving by popular vote. Some elders assign all their kids as co-POAs in an effort towards fairness. But, having to have several people vote on each decision causes paralysis. Instead, divide up tasks according to skills and collaborate.
We know not every family has perfect relationships (and caregiving can strain them). Seek help from a care manager to guide the conversations and smooth out the bumps. We welcome you to join the Caregivers Community on Facebook. Share your worries, your wins, your woes. Get tips from others who have been there.
Wrong: Underestimating the Skills Needed for Caregiving
You may think it just takes the biggest, strongest person to lift Dad or help Mom up from the chair. Sometimes caregiving appears to be a simple array of physical tasks. We’ve heard family members talk about exchanging room and board for a young student to help. They figure it’s a way to save money. And, a young person with the right strength and stamina can surely help. But there are important skills to caregiving. And, because the tasks are so personal, a caregiver must be a good match for the client.
Similarly, as a family caregiver you may not realize there’s any special training needed. It may not appear you need to learn any special techniques or caregiving methods.
Right: Proper Techniques and Finesse
In reality, a skinny, older lady who knows the proper lifting/transfer techniques may do much better than a young, strong man. Caregivers need to understand basic body mechanics, proper lifting, and safe transfer techniques. We train each EasyLiving caregiver in these caregiving methods and test their skills.
Without proper caregiving methods, caregivers injure easily. The care recipient can get hurt too. Just imagine you are trying to help Mom out of her chair. She is dead weight, but you feel you are strong enough. You struggle and slip, pulling a muscle in your back and Mom slides to the floor.
A caregiver is like a nurse, doctor, companion, activity director, chef/nutritionist, organizer, and more all rolled into one. EasyLiving’s caregiver training covers senior nutrition, medication assistance, communicating with older adults, safety, and dementia caregiver methods. Knowing how to safely provide personal care is just the start. Caregivers also learn ways to make the situation more comfortable for the care recipient.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease requires special skills. These include redirection techniques to deal with wandering, paranoia, and repetitive questions. The caregiver should understand how to manage a client who refuses care and ways to keep the client engaged. Click Here for our free dementia care guide for some great pointers from our experts!
EasyLiving uses a unique process to match the right caregiver to the client. In finding out about the client’s personal preferences and history, we not only make a good match but provide a smooth introduction. The caregiver can provide better care and build bonds with the client. They have the guidance to succeed. Clients and families often remark on the difference this makes, especially in comparison to past experiences with home care.
Wrong: Winging It
There’s no way to control everything that happens in your caregiving journey. But, you can be proactive. Without a plan, you just react to each crisis. This limits your options and wastes time and money. You’ll feel constant anxiety. But, you may not know where to start. It seems overwhelming, so you just deal with things as they come.
Right: Having a Road Map
Schedule a time to talk to an eldercare expert so you can build your priority list. Save hundreds of hours of research by getting advice from someone who knows the options.
Imagine you or someone you love getting a serious medical diagnosis. You don’t just go home and wait until various symptoms pop up. You talk to specialists to find out the prognosis and what to expect. The experts help you assess treatment options. Together, you develop a plan. Along the way, you reevaluate and adjust. Caregiving should be no different.
Wrong: Giving Your Care Recipient Exactly What They Want
Your Dad says he wants to go home from the hospital without doing inpatient rehab. So, you make arrangements to take him home immediately. Dad returns home, but no one knows just how difficult it will be. He needs rides every day to outpatient rehab, where he gets an hour of therapy. He would have had more extensive therapy and assistance at inpatient rehab. Because he’s still weak, Dad ends up falling and lands back in the hospital.
Mom says she doesn’t need any help. Even though you’ve seen her struggling, you don’t do anything. You notice her becoming more confused. Eventually, you realize she’s been messing up her medications. She ends up dehydrated and dizzy. Unfortunately, due to her deterioration, she now requires round-the-clock care.
Dad doesn’t want to give up driving. He says he’ll just drive locally during the day. Dad does okay driving locally...until he doesn’t. One day he takes a wrong turn and ends up lost many hours from home.
Right: Being Respectfully Assertive
Your parent is an adult. He/she can make bad choices. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up when you have concerns. Everyone should understand the potential consequences of different decisions. And, as a caregiver, you should define your boundaries. Otherwise, your parent may make decisions that cost you both dearly.
When you’re facing such decisions, do yourselves both a favor. Talk to a care manager. Get help discussing your concerns. Find out the pros and cons of various options. We’ve seen what a difference this makes, to the caregiver and the client. That client who didn’t want any help begins to feel empowered about making these choices.
Don't face caregiving alone.
Talk to someone about your situation. Find solutions that work.