5 December, 2017
Being a caregiver is a challenging role, especially in a country like India. While in most developed countries, caregiving is a more formal, professional, and paid service, in India, it is mostly the immediate family members who take up this role. At times, this is done voluntarily, by family members - kids, spouse, siblings, etc., while occasionally a distant relative may also be obligated to take up the duty. Healthcare in India, especially continuous paid caregiving, is not recognised as an option as may of tend to think that it is a role that only the family must play.
The point, however, is that caregiving is not an easy job. While professional caregivers are trained to handle elders and stressful situations, family members are not. They learn on the job and learn slowly and painfully that it is not an easy job, nor is it a paid one. Here are 5 things that every caregiver in India should know about.
Build a support system
Looking after invalid, immobile, bedridden or at times, people who have Alzheimer’s disease etc. is not an easy task. It requires an immense amount of patience coupled with a lot of sacrifices. You may end up missing many family functions. After a while, all the stress of providing continuous care while having virtually no free time or getaways can get to you. It is therefore essential, to build a support system, as best as you can, involving other family members or neighbors, who are willing to help.
Ensure to create a calendar wherein you tie up with the other support members to take some time off, perhaps attend a family wedding, go for a movie outing, etc. The time away can actually help in rejuvenating you. When it is once in a while, most people won’t mind helping out as well.
Know your patient
If you are a caregiver, it is important to understand the person’s medical conditions, the medications and the do’s and the don’ts. It is important not to take anything for granted and always keep a watch out. Sometimes, some small mistakes, like a delayed meal or a missed medication can cause severe complications. So, it is better to create a chart for them, keep a tab on their checkups, and ensure that things are in order. Keep everything written down.
Take care of yourself
As a caregiver, it is vital that you take good care of yourself. If you fall sick, you have double trouble! So, you need to have a healthy, balanced diet, exercise, and keep yourself as stress-free as you can. The best way to do this would be to find some hobbies, listen to music, and learn some relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, etc.
If the person being taken care of is relatively mobile, as well as keeping good mental health, then it is perhaps better to allow the person to have a reasonably independent routine, to the extent possible. Making the person entirely dependable on you, may only complicate matters. So, allow them to do the tasks that they can and provide help only where it is required. That way, they feel that their dignity is maintained and you are not overstressed.
Be ready for emergencies
Make sure that you have all the right contact numbers and medical records of the person handy, for any emergency, whether in your presence or absence. Understand what can constitute an emergency for the medical conditions the person is suffering from and make sure that the person is provided the right medical care at the earliest.
Remember, you can consider professional help when the role is overwhelming or you simply feel that professional care is required. The intent is to provide the best care possible for your loved one. That doesn't have to be you always. Reach out to Samarth Care if your loved one could use a helping hand as a caregiver.
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