Guidelines for Caregiving
Self-determination: Itís still your
life, not yours. Youíre there to assist, not take over. As long as
your parent, spouse, family member or friend is competent, he or she should be included in decisions
and those choices should be respected.
Normalization: A basic goal for you is to help
your care-receiver continue to lead the same lifestyle he or she has been
leading and wants to keep leading (provided, of course, that lifestyle
is not undermining his or her health or safety).
Individualization. Just because your friend did
this or that for her loved one, it doesnít mean itís best for your
care-receiver. And what was good for a loved one you were helping in
the past, may not be whatís good for the person you're helping now.
Communication: Planning early and talking often
ó even about difficult subjects ó will help you and your loved one
avoid having to work things out in the middle of a crisis.
Support: There are a number of support systems for
both you and your care-receiver. In addition to family, friends,
neighbors and members of the parish, both professional and peer-group
systems of support can be extremely helpful.
Use of Resources: You donít have to reinvent the
wheel. There are lots of resources and services available. Researching
can be challenging but itís worth the effort. Remember there are
resources and services for both your loved one and you, the caregiver.
Solutions: Most often there are no quick fixes to
your loved oneís increasing needs. There are no simple answers. Keep in
mind that even the best solution is only temporary. As his or her
situation changes, and it will, even the best answer will have to be
reviewed and reworked.
Minimum to maximum: If there is resistance, start
with the most basic and critical help needed. Stick with only that and
keep it very limited. Then, gradually increase services to cover more
things. This approach helps with your loved oneís comfort level and it
also helps you evaluate how things are going and what more may be
Ongoing process: The aging process never stops and
each step along the way can bring new challenges for both you and your
loved one. As your care-receiverís health deteriorates, your traditional roles
(as a couple with the wife handling one set of tasks and the husband
taking care of another, for example) may continue to fluctuate or
(as adult and child) reverse.
These changes are new for both of you and can seem overwhelming.
Remember that neither of you has to be an expert at this. Both of you
can learn together
Prayer: As is true when facing so many of lifeís
challenges, the best coping strategy includes turning to prayer. Pray
for your loved one, that he or she can accept what is happening and find
comfort. Pray for yourself, that you will have the strength to do the
many tasks before you. Pray that both you and your care-receiver will have
wisdom when decisions need to be made. Pray that you both will feel
the love of God, our heavenly Father. Pray for your fellow caregivers.
Pray, right here, right now.
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