Caring for loved one can be emotionally and physically draining, particularly when they are sick and the prognosis is poor. If you are helping a loved one, here are some steps you can take to provide the best care possible and look after your own health and wellbeing.
Understand the benefits of expert help, advice and treatment
Providing care for a close friend or relative can be incredibly difficult, especially if you don’t have any formal training in nursing or medical care. When you are caring for a parent, a sibling or your best friend, it’s essential to understand the importance of seeking advice and having access to expert help. Professional care companies, medical teams and centers that specialize in hospice care can provide you with information about treatment options, explain more about diagnoses, and answer any questions you or your loved one may have. If you have the support of experienced care staff or medical teams, they can help you to cope with the everyday tasks involved with caring as well as providing advice about how you can make your relative more comfortable.
Involve the individual
Taking responsibility for a loved one’s care is a huge step and you may often feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Unless your family member is unable to make decisions or process information, it’s beneficial to try and involve them as much as possible. Whether they are living at home with support around the house, they have moved into your home, or you are considering options such as care homes or palliative care centers, talk to them and try to ensure that they have a say in the decisions that are made about the future. It can be reassuring to make decisions with their blessing or input, and it can also help individuals to prepare for what is ahead. Many of us have preferences and ideas about how we want to be cared for if we get sick or we reach old age and can’t live independently. It’s never too early to have such conversations to respect individual choices.
Let people help
We all want the best for the people who mean the most to us. If you are caring for a sick relative, it’s natural to want to go out of your way to help them as much as possible. The trouble is that it can be tough to juggle caring with working, raising kids and running a home. There is no shame in asking others for help or reaching out and seeking advice. This may mean sharing responsibilities with siblings or other members of the family, exploring services that provide additional support around the house or working with the medical teams that look after your loved one. Take breaks when you feel exhausted, and understand that all you can do is your best.
If somebody you love is sick, you might have assumed caring responsibilities without giving it a second thought. Looking after relatives can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be distressing and draining. Seek expert advice, work with care teams, let others help and try to involve your loved one in the decisions you make.
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