Caregiving might be a role you never thought you'd be in, but now a family member or loved one is ill and is depending on you. Have you ever had the thought, "am I really up to the task?"
The best quality you possess right now is your willingness and ability to care for your loved one. Let's be real- caring for a loved one won't always be easy, but try to keep an open mind about everything. The traits outlined below are traits that you can learn by hard work and perseverance. The job of a caregiver will have a lot of ups and downs, but the rewards of being present for a loved one in their most vulnerable state is immeasurable.
DependabilityCaregiving for your loved one means they rely nearly 100% on you, which can be difficult if you are typically independent. Whatever you commit to, you must keep your word and follow through. Write it down on your calendar, on a post-it note, or set the alarm to help keep you from forgetting.
Many individuals who receive care have a set routine to which they become adjusted. Perhaps the schedule is every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you do puzzles at 2 pm, or Tuesday morning is set aside for grocery shopping. A set schedule builds trust and a sense of reliability for your loved one.
Once you have a nice flowing routine, unexpected care needs or behavior issues can derail a schedule. During trying times, flexibility and patience are crucial.
If you get overly frustrated, make sure you take a step back and ground yourself. Ask yourself, "what is most important for today?" Take a few deep breaths, smile, and talk to your loved one with kindness. If a normal routine is overly frustrating them, it's ok to say "Let's skip this," and instead do something that is more enjoyable and free of stress.
EmpathyThe ability to put yourself in another's situation is an important trait. You could develop this trait by asking yourself how you would want to be treated and cared for if you were in your loved one's situation.
Making eye contact and speaking gently to your loved one is another way to show you are very compassionate and understanding of their circumstances.
Asking for Help
Caregiving can push you to your limits. Making sure you take a day off or have moments of self-care to balance your time can make a world of difference.
Remember, you are not alone, and you do not have to do it all. When others offer help, take it willingly. Making sure you are replenished and rested is essential- that way you can continue to be a dependable, flexible and empathetic caregiver.