Every day I hear about caregivers who are struggling.
In my workshops people start smiling and breathing a sigh of relief when I share my practical tips.
People ask me: “Why is life as a caregiver so hard?”
You love your parent, you care for your parent and NOW WHAT?
Here are 7 practical tips that you can apply when visiting your parent(s), and remember… it always starts with You:
- Enter the house with a smile:
Take a couple of deep breaths before you go in for your visit, so you slow down and focus on a pleasant visit, a cup of tea together and the tasks at hand. Leave behind what happened earlier in the day, feel happy and smile.
- Connect with your parent:
Sit down for at least a few minutes before you start doing any tasks.
Ask how their day was, and take the time to listen. The best way for a nice conversation? Ask ONE open question and let them chat away. Don’t interrupt in any way.Put your hand over his/her: gentle touch works magic and make sure you smile. If that is a challenge, think how much you love that person. Making a connection and being present makes you both feel good.
Suggestion: if the TV is on, suggest to turn it off for a while or have the volume down.
- Talk slowly when you talk to your parent:
Our lives are often so busy and we tend to talk fast, way too fast for seniors.
No multitasking when you talk: do not put groceries away and talk to them while you have your back turned to them or are in another room.
- Let your mom or dad know what you’re doing:
Tell them what tasks you will be doing during your visit. Don’t rush through the house.
Slowing down is a skill you may and for sure will have to develop; you will notice that it has a positive effect on your loved ones and on yourself.
- Have your eyes and ears open for risks & “the unusual”:
Always keep your eyes open during your visit. Things can change in an instant and seniors are at risk for falls. Is there anything that gets in their way when they walk through the house? Are there any small rugs to trip over? Is the phone within reach? Are there any spills on the kitchen floor? Do you smell something different?
Be aware of the unusual: a burner on the stove left on, a tap running, an unlocked patio door, the phone off the hook, food left on the counter for hours, a broken lightbulb etc..
- Keep a journal at hand:
A notebook comes in handy. Keep it in your parent’s house so all family members can document their findings and experience about anything you want to remember and anything that is unusual (see #5)
Make sure that everyone involved knows who is responsible for follow-up. Think about it and make a decision.
- How long is your visit?
It’s helpful when you announce how long your visit will be. Give a reminder 10 minutes before you leave. Sit down for the final 5 minutes and connect (see #2). Understand the importance for them… and for YOU!
And don’t forget: feel good about your visit!
After you leave the house and you’re back in your car, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and feel good about your visit. Share your experience with your family members, friends and update them with facts and fun stuff, via phone, a letter or an email. Be aware that social media is not necessarily the place to post publicly all about your loved ones. Consider creating a private or secret Facebook-Group-Page that is only for family members and close friends, so it is safer to share any updates.
As you know, you can ask me anything. When the caregiving journey gets too overwhelming and you keep having thoughts about “my life and my health sucks…” or “I am not sure if I’m doing it right…” , then connect with Saskia and book yourself a One-Off Emergency Care coaching session. You’ll be so glad you did!