Caring for someone is hard. You give a lot of yourself acting as an advocate for their care and assisting them in their daily lives. Though we can’t make your job as a caregiver easier, we do have a few suggestions from Caregiver Solutions to help you provide better care. Tune in to learn more in this week's Changing Lives Podcast.
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You can listen to episodes of "Changing Lives" on 91x FM each Monday (except for holidays) at 9:05am. Hospice Quinte is grateful to the support that 91x FM provides in producing the "Changing Lives" podcast.
About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte assists terminally ill individuals and their caregivers by offering them support and companionship. Visiting hospice services are offered in the person’s own home, long term care homes, retirement homes and both Belleville General and Trenton Memorial Hospitals. This care is provided by trained, experienced, and compassionate volunteers. Bereavement support groups are also offered. There are no fees for services to patients and their families. Hospice Quinte is a registered, non-profit charity whose volunteers are the heart of the organization.
The Hospice Quinte service area includes Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.Support the show
Caring for someone is hard. You give a lot of yourself acting as an advocate for their care and assisting them in their daily lives. Though we can’t make your job as a caregiver easier, we do have a few suggestions from Caregiver Solutions to help you provide better care.
Number One: Watch for changes.
Some changes will be nothing to worry about but it’s a good idea to keep a log of what you do notice to help discover any trends. You can also flag any changes you see in the individual and bring it to the attention of the person’s doctor or nurse.
Number Two: Pick your battles.
Recognize what’s okay to let go and what issues need to be addressed. For example, if your loved one is wanting to keep their independence by making their own lunch, and doing so will not cause immediate harm, take a step back and let them do it.
Number Three: Delegate.
There are certain things that only you can do as the individual’s caregiver, but other tasks can be divvied up amongst other family and friends. Delegating less critical tasks to others, like grocery shopping, will relieve some of your stress and give you some time to yourself, which is not a luxury but a necessity for your wellbeing.
Number Four: Laugh!
A sense of humour can do a lot for our emotional and mental health. When we’re facing the impossible, sometimes all we can do to cope is laugh, and that’s okay! Laughing has been proven to boost the immune system, exercise your heart, enhance respiratory function, and improve gastrointestinal health. Laughter also reduces levels of “stress hormones” such as cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline…while stimulating “feel good” hormones like endorphins.
Number Five: Sleep.
We understand that sometimes caregiving doesn’t allow for a regular sleep schedule, but as much as it’s possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, or schedule a nap when needed. Sleep can do wonders for your mood, energy, and short- and long-term health.
Number Six: Stay connected.
We know you’re stretched for time but it’s important to keep in touch. Did you know that isolation and loneliness can be equally as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? For all aspects of your health, social contact is something you should prioritize. If you’re in need of someone to connect with, Hospice Quinte offers a Caregiver Companionship service that connects Quinte caregivers with a Hospice Quinte volunteer who is trained to understand the unique needs of caregivers.
Number Seven: Schedule your company.
Though seeing family and friends should be prioritized, try to discourage your loved ones from dropping in unannounced. Often drop-ins, especially on busy days, can be more inconvenient than thoughtful. Arranging a suitable time and day for guests to visit will help everyone enjoy their time together. Also, don’t hesitate to cancel if the day of your scheduled visit turns out to be an undesirable or inconvenient day.
Number Eight: Keep the one you are caring for comfortable.
Check regularly for bedsores, which can result from inactivity, extended periods of sitting or lying in the same position for too long. Bony areas of the body are the most susceptible, like the elbows, buttocks, and heels. Be sure to keep the individual’s family doctor in the loop, by phone or email, and don’t hesitate to contact them with any concerns you might have.
Number Nine: Accept the lows.
What you’re doing is hard. If your loved one has a palliative illness, you’re likely experiencing anticipatory grief. During your lows, reach out and seek the support that you need. As mentioned, Hospice Quinte offers a Caregiver Companionship service, along with a Visiting Hospice service that pairs you with a trained Hospice Quinte volunteer that can provide up to four hours of respite each week. Both services are an excellent way to connect with someone who understands the end-of-life journey and what it’s like to be a caregiver.
Lastly, Number Ten: Have an information package on hand.
Prepare an information package for the individual that you’re caring for that contains all of the important, “need to know” information about the individual, such as: health team contact numbers, medical records, health card number, advance care plan, insurance papers, and prescription information.
All of this information can be extremely helpful to have in one secure location that’s easy for you, or someone taking over for you for a day, to access in a moment’s notice.