7 Simple Tips for Effective & Fulfilling Caregiving: Visiting Your Parents

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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..
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

What’s next?
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!

Beyond movie & massage: The real deal about self-care

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The other day I was reading comments on an article about self-care-tips for caregivers and the tone of the comments struck me. Believe it or not, they mostly sounded like this:
• “I know about self-care, but it just doesn’t work for me”
• “Self-care for me is when you send me someone who can take over my caregiving for the next hour… please!”
• “Self-care? Not for me! I have no time since I have to look after a loved one 24/7”
• “When I go for a walk around the block, it feels good for a few minutes and then it’s all about the caregiving again and the good feeling is gone”
• “My mom starts yelling at me every time I want to be by myself”

I felt sad reading this.

Are you a caregiver who is immersed in caring for your loved one and is it taking its toll on you? Does thinking about self-care stresses you out even more, or it makes you upset as you may believe you can’t have it?

STOP! And pause… are you ready to learn something different?

Here are some insights and tips that help you to start thinking differently about self-care.
Self-care is not just about going to see a movie or having a massage.

The “real deal” about self-care is caring for yourself from the inside out, for instance:

  1. Learning to let go of negative thinking and instead create more positive thoughts
  2. Understanding your current belief system and being willing to make necessary changes
  3. Gain awareness about your limiting beliefs that may keep you stuck
  4. Discover what it is that you want for yourself in life and take action to move forward
  5. Commit to self-acceptance and self-love

Self-discovery and personal growth are important keys for a happier life, on your terms.
To become stronger, improve confidence and make better decisions. After all, you came on this planet to fulfill your calling.

Taking care of aging parents may be a part of your life, however it doesn’t mean that it has to take over your own life completely.

You have a choice… and it takes courage to be your own advocate.

Carrie Jolie Dale wrote the book: “The 2 choices”.
It’s an easy read with a powerful message. In one of the chapters I came across “The 2 choices mantra”.
After I read it, I jotted it on an index card and I have it visible on my desk. I have the permission to share it with you:

“The 2 Choices Mantra”

Right now, I have 2 choices:
One will get me more in alignment
with things I desire and the other
will move me away from it.
This ability to choose is a gift and
my source of passion, connection and power.

Ultimately it means: when you make a powerful decision you create powerful results. If you make a weak decision (and you know this in your heart) you will get a weak result.
This wonderful quote comes from Carrie Jolie Dale’s book and I resonate with it:
“Choose the things that just feel better”

Choose to keep an eye on yourself and when feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion or resentment creep up,
ask yourself: what 2 choices do I have?

Take a few minutes for yourself to look at your options and then choose powerfully.

When you take care of yourself on a deeper level, caring for others becomes easier.
And it will be more fun to choose deliberately for the movie or massage. You deserve it!