Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Tips for Caregivers

September 20, 2021 Hospice Quinte Season 4 Episode 28
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Tips for Caregivers
Show Notes Transcript

According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 an estimated 25 percent of the population provided some form of long-term caregiving to a loved one. As those with illness face multiple losses and grief, and adjustments to a different life routine, so do caregivers.  Caregivers may face losses such as the loss of a job, broken or challenging relationships, and having to learn to adjust to new caregiving routines and skills.  Caregiving is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding, yet demanding, jobs a person will ever have.  Listen to this week's podcast for some tips to help ease the burden of caregiving.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

Support the show (https://hospicequinte.ca/donate/)

According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 an estimated 25 percent of the population provided some form of long-term caregiving to a loved one. These individuals are providing caregiving duties to loved ones with a long-term health condition, a physical or mental disability, or problems related to aging.

As those with illness face multiple losses and grief, and adjustments to a different life routine, so do caregivers.  Caregivers may face losses such as the loss of a job, broken or challenging relationships, and having to learn to adjust to new caregiving routines and skills.  They also deal with more profound losses such as the changes to their loved one’s personality and involvement in their lives due to progressions of illness.  For example, a caregiver may have to learn how to accept and relate to their loved one who is more easily irritated or depressed and who may no longer seem to be the parent, spouse, child, or friend they knew before. 

It is common for caregivers to put their physical, emotional and social needs aside so that they can continue to meet the needs of their loved ones.  A caregiver’s needs tend to be overlooked, as the needs of the patients are usually more visible and immediate.  Yet, their needs are no less important.  

Caregiving is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding, yet demanding, jobs a person will ever have.  Whether you have been a caregiver for a long time, are new to caregiving, or planning on caregiving in the future, there are many responsibilities, emotions, struggles and worries that you might feel. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind.  

You are a human being, and nobody is perfect.  You will have moments where you question your abilities, performance and skills.  There can be a lot to learn about medical needs, medications, foods, hygiene habits, appointments, wants, needs, and structure.  Building confidence is key and will look different to everyone.  A positive step to building confidence is access to information.

There are many disease-specific agencies that can offer concrete information regarding your loved one’s diagnosis, prognosis, and common potentials.  The ALS society of Canada, Alzheimer’s Society, Canadian Lung Association and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation are all good examples.  Information can help to empower you, keep you up to date with current research, and help you understand what your loved one is experiencing.   

Asking for training is also a possibility.  Many agencies and societies have virtual platforms for disease specific education and can help you learn appropriate body mechanics, maneuvers, understanding medical reports, and advocacy.  

Self-care is a very important component of caregiving.  Self-care can look very different from person to person, so find what fits best with your needs and lifestyle.  For example, take people up on their offers of help, whatever that looks like.  If a friend offers to bring you a meal, accept.  A night off from cooking might be just the break you needed.  Suggest specific things people can do to help you.  Make a list of all the support people in your life and start making calls.  Make sure to be specific in your requests as this can help to avoid confusion.

An important but often overlooked task a caregiver can do to make their lives easier is to organize all the medical information pertaining to their loved one.  Keeping records current, relevant and clear means that no matter who is asking, you won’t find yourself overwhelmed with details at the last minute.  This is handy for doctor’s appointments, nurse and pharmacy visits, or if you need to leave for a period of time and have someone coming in to temporarily take your place. 

The good you can do for your loved one is dependent on how well you take care of your own physical and mental health.  You need to make yourself a priority.  We have all heard the saying “you can’t draw water from an empty well”.  At Hospice Quinte we know how difficult it can be for caregivers.  That’s why we have our Caregiver Counselling and Companion programs.  Compassionate caregiver counselling is available at no charge to individuals looking for support.  A counsellor is happy to speak with you for up to four sessions, and a trained volunteer can continue service with you for up to 6 months.

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.