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A Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving

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Sipping my morning coffee, I couldn’t help but reflect on the changes I’ve witnessed in my father, Charles, over the past few months. Becoming the caregiver after being cared for was a gradual shift, and now, it’s a role I take on with determination and love.

As I navigate this journey, I’ve compiled a list of practical tips – the do’s and don’ts – that have been a lifeline for Dad and me.

Do Regular Health Check-ups: Dad’s health became a top priority. Regular check-ups with the doctor became a routine, helping us catch potential issues early on.

Remember …

Specialized Check-ups: In addition to regular check-ups, schedule specialized screenings based on age and health history, such as eye exams, dental check-ups, and screenings for common age-related conditions like osteoporosis.

His Health Journal: Maintain a health journal to track changes or concerns. This journal can be a valuable resource during doctor visits, providing a comprehensive overview of your loved one’s health.  It keeps me organized and up-to-date.


Communicate: At the start, it was challenging for both of us because I wasn’t sure where to begin. Many times, my questions felt awkward. A friend offered valuable advice, suggesting we delve into each other’s concerns, care preferences, and fears. We tackled topics like our financial situation, living arrangements, and the plan for Mom’s care. As we navigated these discussions, we formed a stronger bond, gaining a deeper understanding of each other. Naturally, we had differing opinions and occasional disagreements, but these moments allowed me to comprehend his worries and see things from his perspective.

Consider…

Advanced Directives: We’ve had those tough talks about advanced directives and end-of-life preferences. It’s not easy, but it takes a weight off our shoulders, knowing we’re respecting Dad’s wishes.


Adapt the Living Space: Simple modifications to our living space were game-changers. Handrails, non-slip mats, and good lighting significantly reduced the risk of accidents.

Useful tools…

Technology Aids: We’ve added technology aids like smart home devices and security and emergency response systems. They add an extra layer of safety and give us peace of mind.

Fall Prevention Programs: Dad is enrolled in a local fall prevention program. It’s been fantastic – offering practical tips and exercises to reduce the risk of those unexpected slips.


Encourage Physical Activity: Convincing Dad to engage in light exercises, like daily walks with Georgie or chair exercises, did wonders for his mobility and overall health.

Other support…

Tailored Exercises: A physical therapist helped us create a personalized exercise routine. It’s tailored to Dad’s specific needs, addressing his mobility challenges and chronic conditions.

Social Activities: Combining exercise with social time has been a win-win. Dad joined group exercises and community classes, keeping him active physically and socially.


Create a Routine: Establishing a daily routine brings stability to our lives. Regular meal times, medication schedules, and leisure activities maintained a sense of normalcy.

 How about…

Mind-stimulating Activities: Our routine includes mind-stimulating activities like puzzles and reading. It’s not just about physical health – mental stimulation is a big player in the game.

Flexibility in Routine: Routines offer stability, but we’ve learned to be flexible. Life throws curveballs, and adjusting our schedule has helped us adapt without feeling overwhelmed.


Don’t Ignore Mental Health: I learned early on that mental health is just as crucial. Ignoring signs of depression or anxiety can worsen physical ailments. Encouraging social activities and engaging in hobbies became non-negotiable.

Engage…

Regular Social Interaction: We’ve made sure Dad has consistent social interactions. It’s crucial to combat loneliness and keep his mental health in check.

Recognize Signs of Depression: Keeping an eye out for signs of depression has become second nature—changes in sleep, appetite, or mood – any red flags get addressed head-on.


Don’t Overburden with Information: Bombarding Dad with medical jargon was counterproductive. Sharing information in manageable doses and involving him in decision-making made the journey smoother.

Connect…

Visual Aids: Medical info can be overwhelming, so we use visual aids like charts and diagrams. It’s amazing how a simple visual representation can make complex details more digestible.

 Ask for Preferences: Before bombarding Dad with info, I check how he prefers to receive it. Some prefer it written down, while others need a verbal rundown.


Don’t Underestimate the Power of Companionship: Loneliness takes a toll. Spending quality time with Dad, whether through conversations, outings, or simple activities, positively impacted his mood.

Include…

Intergenerational Activities: We’ve planned activities involving different age groups – family gatherings and community events. The mix of perspectives and energy is refreshing.

Pet Therapy: Our furry friend, Georgie, joined the crew. Having a pet brings so much joy and companionship—it was his mood lifter and walking buddy.


Don’t Delay Seeking Professional Help: When faced with challenges, seeking professional help was a game-changer. Whether it was a home caregiver or consulting with healthcare professionals, I learned not to hesitate when additional support was needed.

Self-care…

Respite Care: Taking time off from care has been a savior.  Everyone needs a breather, and taking care of my well-being allows me to reboot.

Support Groups: Joining caregiver support groups has been a sanity-saver.  Even though I did not stay with the group long, my bridge and book club friends were incredible listeners.  Sharing experiences with others who get it provides emotional support and practical tips.

As I share these insights with friends and fellow caregivers, I hope this challenging journey can be navigated with love, patience, and practical tips. Families can embrace this phase of life with grace and compassion.

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