Before you jump in and provide care to your mom or dad, make sure you really understand what it’s going to take. Family caregivers often find themselves unprepared for all they’re about to do. Here are six qualities every family caregiver needs.
The level of attentiveness depends on your mom or dad’s needs. If Alzheimer’s is present, you need to be on your toes and ready for anything. If your dad really only needs help cooking dinners, you’ll find it’s easier to let your guard down.
It can be really hard to keep up a bubbly facade. Everything you do should be done with enthusiasm. If you’re taking your dad to a dentist appointment and he’s been venting his frustration for hours, you need to be able to stay positive.
Your parents’ needs may change from day to day. You must be able to roll with the changes. If your mom suddenly decides she needs new bras, but you’d planned to do laundry, you’ll need to change your plans. Likewise, your dad may not want to go out on a day you’d planned to go to the museum.
Your parent may not take kindly to having you telling them what they need to do. There may be anger and frustration. Be patient. You might also find it frustrating that it takes your mom twice as long to get showered and dressed. Again, patience is necessary.
You may not really know what your parent is going through, but you should act like you do. Be there to support and show care. Research chronic health conditions and read stories to understand what your parent is feeling. On even the worst day, you still need to show support and make sure your mom or dad knows you’d never leave and that you’re there for the good and bad.
6. A Thick Skin.
There may be times when you take the brunt of your parent’s anger and frustration. You may get called names and insulted. Make sure you have thick skin and can take the name calling, insults, and criticisms. You have to remember it’s not personal, it’s the condition or changing abilities to blame.
Respite care is essential to a family caregiver. Make sure you have someone lined up to take over for a few hours. Go out with your friends or family. See a movie or go shopping. Sit at home in your favorite area and read a book. Home care professionals can help your mom or dad while you take a break.