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Maintaining Autonomy As A Caregiver

Jesse A. Block - Kennesaw Elder Law Attorney  Oct. 12, 2022

Have you recently taken on the role as a caregiver for a loved one? Accepting the responsibilities associated with caring for an elderly human being is a stressful task in itself. All of the specific duties entailed can make the task seem flat out daunting. You’ve probably heard horror stories of the self-neglect that caregivers are so famous for. TheAdult helping elderly adult with block puzzle good news is that the life of a caregiver should not be like that, and it doesn’t have to be. You can be an excellent caregiver and preserve your mental and physical health as well.  

There are many things to consider when taking on the role of caregiver for an elderly loved one. Along with dealing with their physical ailments, it's also important to account for any emotional stress that they may be experiencing as a result of their illness or loss of faculties. The role of caregiver can be both challenging and rewarding; however, finding ways to keep your loved one's mental health in check can make all the difference between a positive experience or one that is negative and stressful. 

Caring for an elderly relative is challenging under the best circumstances, but you can make it easier on yourself by getting everything in order ahead of time. 

The last thing you want to be dealing with is figuring out how to get your elderly relative the care they need while trying to juggle work, and family responsibilities. To make things easier on yourself, it's important that you prepare ahead of time. Here's what we recommend: 

  • Organize all of their paperwork in one place so it's easy to access as needed. If they're in a home and need Medicaid or Medicare coverage, check if there are any forms that need to be filled out or updates that need to be made before the beginning of each month (or whenever their benefits run out). If they have a power of attorney or other legal documents, keep them together and organized by date so it's easy for others who may help manage those matters later on. You don't want something important like this lost in the shuffle! 

  • Create a calendar so everyone knows when caregiving shifts will take place—and who'll be responsible for which days/times—so no one gets overwhelmed by having too much responsibility at once. You also don't want someone else taking over just because they feel sorry for you; try explaining why taking care of grandma full time isn't feasible right now so there aren't any hard feelings between family members trying harder than others. 

Having a plan in place when it comes to caring for an elderly loved one can help you be as effective as possible, and make sure your loved one’s needs are being met. 

Caregiving can be both challenging and rewarding and taking time for yourself is an important part of being there for someone else. Caregiving is also a time-consuming, stressful task that can be difficult to navigate. 

If you're a caregiver, you know that sometimes it can feel like there's not enough time in the day to get everything done. You have to juggle your own responsibilities with those of your loved one and often times, do so without any help or support. This can be overwhelming and can lead to burnout if not monitored carefully. 

It's important for caregivers to take care of themselves so that they can continue providing the support their loved ones need during this difficult time. Taking some time out from caregiving tasks each day will make both you and your family feel less stressed out as well as ensure that all needs are being met  

The goal is to make sure your loved one’s needs are being met through their care and in case of an emergency occurring. Having a plan in place when it comes to caring for an elderly loved one can help you be as effective as possible, and make sure your loved one’s needs are being met. Spend some time setting up some systems to keep your calendar and your loved one’s calendar synced and up to date with work obligations, family activities, and doctors’ appointments. 

find ways to schedule your caregiving tasks around your other commitments, and vice versa. 

  • Schedule your caregiving tasks around your other commitments, and vice versa. If you have a large family, use that to your advantage! For example, if you have siblings who live in town and are able to help out from time to time, take advantage of their availability. Or if one of your children works from home for some reason, ask them if they can help out with some tasks during the day. 

  • Remember: You’re not entirely alone in this journey. There are many people who can help—even complete strangers! Reach out to friends or family members on occasion; even just sharing a meal with a friend might be enough to lift spirits or provide needed support over the next few weeks or months. 

Make Time for Self-Care 

The first thing that you need to do is make sure that you're listening to yourself. If there is something that is bothering you, or if you simply need a break from the stress, listen to your instincts. There is a reason why airplane emergency instructions require you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. Your ability to provide care for your aging loved one is only as good your ability to care for yourself. This is not an easy task. You may feel guilty for taking time away from someone who needs so much help. But sometimes the best thing you can do for the person in your care, and yourself, is take some time off. It's important to take into account how much time you will need in order to rest and rejuvenate. Is it going to be a long weekend? Will it just be a few hours at night? Or will it be a quick couple of days? It really all depends on what works best for both of you. 

You should be able to take time off when you need it. You need not feel guilty because of this fact. Your family member will be fine while you're gone, but they will be better if you are well rested and ready to return with a positive attitude and renewed energy. 

As a caregiver you should go out of your way to set aside time for yourself. It's important for caregivers to set aside time for themselves. Taking care of others is a heavy burden, and it's easy to make yourself the last person on your list. But if you never take care of yourself, you'll burn out quickly, and then what will happen? You'll be unable even to help your loved ones! 

Setting aside time for yourself doesn't have to mean taking a vacation or going on a shopping spree. It can be something as simple as reading an hour each day before bedtime or taking fifteen minutes after lunch every day just to breathe deeply, stretch your muscles, and relax. 

Find Someone to Help with Respite Care 

When it comes to selecting someone who can fill in while you're away, make sure that they are qualified enough to handle any problems and emergencies which may arise. Of course, nobody knows the person in your care quite as well as you do, but if the substitute has some experience and expertise then they will be able to handle most situations which may arise. 

The main thing here is to focus on their ability to adapt whatever skills or knowledge they have towards your loved one's needs. This is why using a reputable agency with professionals on staff can really help ensure that your family member receives the best possible care from trained individuals who know how to deal with clients like yours in unique situations like theirs.  

Ask for Help When You Need It. 

There are many things that you can do to help yourself and your loved one maintain autonomy as a caregiver, but there will likely come a time when you need outside assistance. When that time comes, try not to be too proud to ask for it. 

Get support from others who are also caregivers. Sometimes having someone else understand what you’re going through can help more than anything else in the world. If there are fellow caregivers in your life that have gone through similar situations or have been there for their own family members, ask them how they handled it. There are online and in-person groups on for general caregivers and there are niche groups for many specific ailments including dementia, Alzheimer’s, or cancer. It isn’t a stretch to say that if you are experiencing something now, someone else is or has experienced the same thing and can be a support. 

It’s important to have a strong support system when you’re caring for an aging loved one, especially if you are doing so alone. It can be helpful to find local caregiver groups in your area or online. These groups offer a lot of information about resources and services that are available for caregivers as well as provide emotional support for caregivers. 

Maintaining a sense of autonomy as a caregiver can be difficult, especially if you are juggling two jobs. Here are some tips to help you out: 

More often than not, people who care for an elderly family member have to balance their role as a caregiver with another job. This can be difficult for the caregiver because he or she may feel like they are not spending enough time with their loved ones and making them feel loved and cared for in return. 

For example, if you work full-time, then you might have to travel back home during your lunch break. Then when you come home after work, perhaps your mother is still awake but it's already past her bedtime. She wants attention from her son or daughter but because he/she has been working all day long, they don't want to spend any more time with the elderly relative than necessary—which means that they might spend less time than they would like living and spending quality time with their aging loved-one. 

Take into consideration the emotional stress that goes with a lot of physical ailments that older people suffer from. 

When caring for an older loved one, it's important to take into consideration the emotional stress that accompanies a lot of physical ailments that older people suffer from. 

For example, many elderly people experience dementia or other cognitive impairments while they are still in their homes. This can make their lives incredibly difficult and stressful because they cannot think clearly enough to do simple tasks like remembering how to use the microwave oven or turn on a light switch. It also causes them great frustration when they find themselves unable to communicate effectively with those around them, which may make them feel very isolated in their homes. 

This kind of situation requires constant observation and attention on your part as a caregiver so you can respond quickly when your loved one needs help—and possibly even prevent him or her from hurting themselves because they aren’t able to care for themselves any longer. 

The best way for this type of caregiving relationship is one where both parties work together collaboratively; this approach will allow both parties involved time for rest without worrying about neglecting one another's needs over extended periods throughout each day (as would be common if only one person was responsible). 

Plan Ahead 

Once you have taken care of yourself and you have gotten in to the routine of your loved one’s day to day needs, it is time to start think about the future and your loved one’s legacy. It is always a good idea to make sure that an end of life plan is in place. End of life plans include an estate plan, medical directives, funeral plans, and final wishes. If no plan is in place, now is the time to consider the options and work to develop one. If one was already created, reviewing the documents should be done to make sure that they are still accomplishing your loved one’s goals. It is important to act while there is still time.  

As you can see, there are many reasons why caregivers might feel less than autonomous. However, there are also many things that you can do to help yourself and others in your position feel more empowered. By taking care of yourself first (and second and third), asking for help when needed, getting support from other caregivers, and planning ahead you may find that your job becomes much easier than it would otherwise be. At Block Law we help our clients protect their family and legacy by creating comprehensive estate plans. Call us at (770) 387-4529 to schedule a free consultation today!