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Tips to make caregiving a special time
Caring for ill or aged loved ones is stressful. But it can also be a time for making special bonds and lasting memories. Here are some tips, or maybe just reminders:
1. Offer comfort rather than correction
Constantly correcting a patient who feels they are a burden, is argumentative, or has dementia is exhausting for you and for your patient. Ask yourself, “Is this something that really requires correction for safety reasons or can I let it go?” Practice gently giving reassurance and moving the subject to something positive. You may find your patient becomes less argumentative, making your job much easier.
Your caregiving routine requires a lot of your time and it is common for caregivers to miss the meaning of what their patient is trying to communicate. Too often, arguments and bad feelings between patients and caregivers arise from misunderstandings. For example, a patient may say “Where is my money?” sounding as though they are accusing the caregiver of mishandling their finances. By asking “Why are you concerned about your money?” it may be the patient is actually fearful of having too little to maintain their care. Instead of responding with “Don’t worry about that,” causing bad feelings for both patient and caregiver, now there is an opportunity to discuss the real issue and bond over the appropriate and reassuring response.
3. Find your mutual interests
The time you would like to spend on your own interests might include your patient. Find what interests you share with your patient so you can enjoy them together. Reading to each other is a lost art that is truly satisfying and the type of reading materials and topics are endless. Might your patient like to learn your favorite games or try your talent for art and music? Quiet time while people-watching is often especially enjoyable for patients with dementia and for their caregivers.
4. Make memories
While caring for your patient, encourage them to share their special memories of people and places. Review family albums with them to prompt them. And be sure to record these conversations – the more you encourage them to share the more you may learn. Prepare to be surprised!
5. Take advantage of caregiver resources
Have you read the previous tips and thought “That’s great, but when do I find time for myself”? Ask yourself if you have made it clear to other family members that you need help. Don’t expect others to step up if they don’t know what you need. Be specific (“I need 3 hours on Saturdays to attend to other needs”). And you should also be aware that Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey offers a variety of caregiver respite care programs, including some grant-funded programs that are free of charge.* Learn more here: Respite Care Resources.
*These services are made possible through grants received from the Morris County and Sussex County Boards of County Commissioners and the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Eligibility requirements may apply.
Did you know that Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) is the longest-serving VNA in the state of New Jersey? So we know a thing or two about helping seniors “age in place” to avoid hospitalization and nursing homes, and also what services people need to recover from illness and surgery at home. We suggest that you learn more about our home health care services and make a plan to age at home before you have a health emergency.
Medicare and supplemental insurance often do not cover all the care our patients and caregivers need. If you would like to help, please visit vnannj.org/donate or call VNA Foundation: 973-451-4148.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) is a leading provider of comprehensive home health care services in Morris, Hunterdon, Sussex, Warren, Somerset, and Passaic Counties in Northern New Jersey. Established in 1898, generations have known that just one call to VNA opens the door to quality, patient-centered home health care solutions that allow patients to remain in the comfort of their homes with dignity, health, and independence.
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