Tips for the Novice In-Home Elder Caregiver

Tips for the Novice In-Home Elder Caregiver

Suddenly being in the situation to accept the role as caregiver can be tough, and there is no reason to think otherwise. One of the best things you can do for not only for yourself, but your loved one that is being cared for, is to take care of yourself as well. Maintain a healthy diet with regular exercise, and set some time aside to enjoy your own favorite hobbies. Find time to spend with the company of friends and family. Sometimes getting some respite from caregiving is necessary. These suggestions can certainly help to manage the stress associated with being a caregiver.

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Being calm, energetic, and clearheaded will make for a better caregiver. Sometimes it is easy to feel guilty about wanting to take some more time for yourself, but remember that your own needs should be met as well, in order to better take care of your loved one.

A Community of Support

Becoming a caregiver brings about many different concerns, questions, and emotions. Having the support of a community is crucial. You can seek advice from those who are more knowledgeable and have experiences similar to yours. Typically, nobody, including close friends, can understand what a caregiver goes through unless they are or have been in this particular situation. Lack of social support can lead to feelings of alienation and loneliness.

Fortunately, there are many online support groups available for caregivers that provide a safe place to share questions, concerns, aggravations and worries. At the end of the day, it is comforting to know that you can share your experience with others that will understand and can relate.

Mobile Apps

Everything involved with being a caregiver can become overwhelming. There are medications to schedule, medical visits to attend, and daily routine that add to a seemingly endless list of things to do. With access to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices there are actually apps designed for caretakers to organize most information necessary for their loved one’s care.


Knowledge is power when it comes to being the caregiver of a loved one. This power provides very important peace of mind. While the need is obvious to learn about your loved one's medical condition, medications, and treatments, there are some additional issues that are almost guaranteed to come by. Decisions about finances and end-of-life wishes are just a few of the many things that will pop up. The key is to invest time early on and learn as much as possible prior to facing any potential and sometimes inevitable situations. Gain education in CPR so that it may be performed if needed. There are many CPR classes that cater to caregivers. Also, look into assisted-living, long-term care, and home care options in the event that a loved one should eventually require another level of care.

When filling the role of caregiver, it is possible to provide thorough, compassionate care, but it is not possible for you to meet each and every single need of your loved one all of the time. Anticipate days when you may need respite care or extra support. There will be good days and bad days, hopefully more of the former and less of the latter, but it is all normal and to be expected. Having the right resources as well as a community that you can turn to will help to create balance in your life, thus making you better at caring for your loved one.

How To Balance Your Caregiving Responsibilities

Caregiving alone is a full-time responsibility and commitment. Combined with work, family, and other responsibilities, it is enough to make anyone frazzled. Unfortunately, when you have to care for an aging loved one, those responsibilities do not disappear. Being an elder caregiver can interfere with work, relationships with a partner, and caring for your own children. It requires a delicate balancing act.

Coping with Work

Though it may sometimes feel like the ideal situation is to quit one’s secular job to become a caregiver for and elderly family member, that is not always possible or practical. When resigning is not an option, being allowed time off to attend to the needs of your loved one is not always possible either. There are always doctor's' appointments to get to, personal care needs to address at home, and unexpected emergencies. In some cases work away from home is viewed as a reprieve from caregiving, and allows some away time.

Family caregivers cannot always give up their employment because they need the salary, they need the benefits, or they simply need the personal and professional satisfaction. Not every employment situation can offer the amount of flexibility needed while providing long term care for an elderly loved one.

Working from home on certain days or times can be an option if your job allows for it. If such an opportunity comes along, it is important to understand the employer's needs and establish a plan that will work for everyone. It is also suggested to look into home care options for the senior for the times that work obligations take immediate priority over home obligations.

Family Arrangements

Providing long term care for an elderly family member often puts stress and tension on relationships with other family members, as it can interrupt normal plans and often, does not allow for ample time to spend with your healthy loved ones. It can lead to less time to interact with children, less intimacy with a partner, or less patience with siblings. These changes create conflict and it is not unusual to experience tempers, disagreements, and distractions within the family. In such situations, the dynamics of the family often change, and roles get passed around, and sometimes reversed.

When providing long term care for a loved one, there are many options for taking even just a few hours during the day, and dedicating them to alone-time with spouses or children. This can also be time used to talk about the situation at hand, or resolve any conflict that has arisen.

Tips To Prioritize Caregiver Responsibilities

  • Be able to know the difference between what needs immediate attention and what does not.
  • Expectations should be realistic. Availability should be honest, and define what an emergency is. Being physically available 24 hours a day is unrealistic, and is physically and psychologically unhealthy.
  • Consider your own needs versus wants, and consider your timing for your own obligations. You cannot take care of someone else if you are not taking care of yourself. The stress will catch up to you sooner or later!
  • Avoid taking the entire responsibility for being a caregiver on yourself when there are other obligations such as children or a career. Try to explore various options for getting support when it is just not possible to do it all yourself.

Talk with your loved ones about hiring a home care provider to help with the senior’s need for long term care. Explain how this will aid in allowing the senior to safely remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Accepting help can be scary, but sometimes it is just plain necessary.

How To Effectively Manage Your Caregiver Situation

When you are a caregiver for a family member, it is likely that you are balancing other roles along with it, such as being a parent, spouse, employee, and child. These are all important roles that need time devoted to them, in order to be performed effectively. When adding caregiver into the mix, it grabs time from each of the other roles, causing stress. This is the Caregiver's Paradox, and many people experience it. If you are considering seeking help from an elder care agency, you are not alone.

There are a few tips that we can give to help you step into and excel at being the best caregiver that you can be.

Plan Ahead

Understand that there may come a time when you will need to ask for help, and you will need to have a plan in place. Will you ask another family member to help out? Will you seek the help of an elder care company? You should be prepared, and ensure that you and your loved ones are on the same page with the course of action.

Communicate Openly

When starting out as a caretaker, set your limits and stick by them. Relay these ground rules to everyone that they affect, and even if there are some things that you are unsure about, let that be known as well. This works both ways — you should be listening as well. Even though a senior might be physically limited, you should not strictly make choices for them, you should be making choices with them. Making them do something that they are not comfortable with, can lead to a bad outcome.

Manage Your Stress

This is crucial to not only your health, but the health of your loved one. Be proactive in eating well, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. Lifestyle has a huge impact on your outlook on life, and all of these things help to maintain a positive outlook on life. Taking time to relax and decompress from the day will also help to manage stress. Even a simple five minutes of silence can help to turn the day around. Look into the aid of an elderly care company, which can provide some relief for you; even if just for a few hours a week.

If You Become Worn Out, Talk About It

Bottling up feelings of being overwhelmed will not lead to anything productive. There are other people going through the same things as you, and support groups exist for them. This is a safe space to vent about your concerns or frustrations, and you won't be met with anger or hostility. Talking to friends and family will clue them into your daily life, and will help them understand your feelings.

Share the Burden

If the entire situation becomes too overwhelming or out of control, don't forget that asking for help is totally normal and not frowned upon. There are a plethora of elderly care solutions in and around the Toronto area that can relieve some of your duties as a caregiver. Though it may seem impossible, try not to focus on the negatives of the situation, rather focus on how you are making a positive difference for your family and elderly loved one by allowing them to be taken care of in a place where they feel most comfortable.

Have questions about our in-homecare services? Want to learn more? You may call us directly at (877) 365-2233 or contact us and we’ll be happy to help.


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