5 Ways to Be a Better Caregiver When a Loved One Gets Sick

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Did you know, more than 40 million Americans are caring for a loved one, whether it be an elderly parent or another family member. No one is ever prepared to become a caregiver. Caregiving is often a full-time job, yet many people who are caring for a loved one find they must continue to work to pay their own bills. This can lead to burn out and exhaustion.

I recently listened to an episode of NPR’s Life Kit podcast called “How to Be a Better Caregiver When A Loved One Gets Sick.” In my opinion, it was right on point. What I really liked about this podcast is how each tip helps to ease the burden of caregiving and make caregiving more sustainable.

The 6 takeaways from the episode were:

  1. Accept help, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
    -People will offer to help. Accept their help and ask for specific requests, such as picking up your kids from school or making a casserole.
  2. Break down caregiving tasks into bite-sized solutions.
    -Consider which tasks take the most of your energy or you find the most difficult for you to perform, then seek help.
  3. Don’t tell your loved one what to do.
    -Ask about the quality of life they want and how you can help them achieve it. No one likes to be issued orders. Keep the relationship amiable by listening to your loved one and understanding their wishes. See if there are family members who can help to meet their wishes.
  4. Be an empowered medical advocate for your loved one.
    -Understand if they prefer quality of life over quantity of life and advocate accordingly.
  5. Get your legal ducks in a row so you can focus on your relationship.
    -You may need to make medical and financial decisions. Do you have the legal ability to do so? Ensure you are prepared by encouraging your loved one to create powers of attorney. Contact an estate planning attorney or call our office at 505-872-0505 to meet with an attorney to get the process started.
  6. Make sure to take care of yourself, too – you are more than a caregiver.
    -Caregiving is stressful and leads to burnout quickly. Just like on an airplane when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others, the same is true in everyday life. If you do not care for yourself, you will be of no help to anyone else, especially when they depend on you. Take time for yourself. Practice self-care. Ask for someone to relieve you for a few hours or an afternoon.

The webpage for the podcast episode has a more detailed article and a way to listen to the podcast. The podcast was less than 30 minutes, and I would encourage anyone to take a listen.

Here is the link: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/11/740715027/how-to-be-a-better-caregiver-when-a-loved-one-gets-sick