6 Ways to Support a Caregiver
It’s teamwork that makes caring for your patients successful. The efforts of the nurses, social workers, aids—the list goes on. But there’s someone who is just as important: the caregiver. You know their job can be tough. Being a caregiver can be taxing, both physically and emotionally. And without enough assistance or support, the caregiver can experience burnout.
Caregiver burnout is preventable and it takes some help from friends and family members. As a healthcare professional, you’ve probably wondered at some point if there is anything you can do to lend a hand. Here are some helpful ways to brighten a caregiver’s day:
1. Suggest Training Classes or Teach New Skills
As a caregiver, people are tasked with learning a lot of information, often very quickly. In order to help transition during this difficult time, suggest classes that may be helpful for the caregiver to attend. For example, a class on how to assess pain or explaining how to help in decision making with their loved one.
2. Introduce the idea of a “stand-in” caregiver
Just like parents need a babysitter every now and then, caregivers can benefit from having a little time to themselves, whether to do something fun, catch up on sleep or attend a grief support group. Crossroads Hospice offers weekly, monthly and drop-in support groups in some cities, and many other organizations also offer support groups. By suggesting to a friend of the caregiver to be a stand-in caregiver, you’ll be gifting them with a much-needed break and the opportunity to get out of the house and have some time to him or herself, even if it’s brief. And who knows, maybe the “stand-in” offer can continue on a weekly or monthly basis.
3. Organize meals
Everyone needs to eat, but sometimes commitments get in the way of eating well. If you know a caregiver who often doesn’t have time to cook for themselves or their loved one, offer some suggestions on quick and easy meals for them.
4. Set goals
Life as a caregiver can get really busy. Setting goals for a caregiver can help them stay organized and take away some of the stress of that hustle and bustle. Whether it’s helping them set future appointments or develop stronger levels of communication with their loved one, setting goals can be life changing.
5. Identify signs of stress
Speaking of stress—identifying its signs is integral to eliminating it. Keep an eye out for mood swings, changes in appetite, procrastination, increased substance abuse, or nervous habits like nail biting and fidgeting. It’s probably stress. Suggest that the caregiver relax with activities like exercise, gardening, and meditation.
6. Give tips on the specific illness
Depending on what type of illness the patient is dealing with, there many ways you can help that are specific to their needs. For instance, by educating the caregiver on common difficulties with dementia patients, you might be able to help them better communicate with their loved one.
These small acts of kindness not only support the caregiver, but will also ensure your patient receives the best care. If you’re looking for more information on hospice support, visit our Healthcare Professionals blog.
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