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Seven Things Every Caregiver Should Know

1.  You are not alone.  Caregiving can seem like a very lonely job.  You’re stuck at home with your loved one, providing care every minute of every day.  It can seem like the only person you ever have any kind of interaction with has dementia, and may exhibit behavioral difficulties as well.  But it is important to realize that there are many other people out there, doing exactly what you are doing.  And there are many places where you can come into contact with these other people, either face-to-face or on-line.  Make it a point to seek out this contact, for friendship and to get ideas.

There may also be organizations in your area that can provide help and support.  Check with the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Association, or Area on Aging, or even your church, to see what kind of resources are available.  They can provide not only companionship, but also home caregivers who can provide a source of respite for you.  Don’t be afraid to solicit help from friends and neighbors as well.

2.  Tell your doctor.  Be sure that your own personal physician knows that you are providing 24/7 care for a loved one.  There are a number of health concerns that this kind of care can place you at risk for.  At the very least, your doctor can be sure that you receive regular screenings for these health problems, and can be sure that you take vitamins or make use of other wellness tools.  The last thing you want to do is get sick yourself, when you have another person that you’re responsible for.

3.  Ensure that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to.  Check to see if there is any kind of public assistance that you are eligible for, due to your role as caregiver.  This may include food stamps, welfare, insurance payments, and other resources.  Your lawyer or accountant may be able to help you out here.

4.  Access any grants you can.  Again, there may be funds available to help with respite care, home improvements, or learning a new skill.  Check with your local Area on Aging, lawyer, or home improvement center for more information.

5.  Think about adaptations for the home.  There are many products out there, from hand rails for the bathroom to specially-designed kitchen utensils.  These can provide help for you and for your loved one.  Consult with an occupational therapist for ideas.  It may be that these can be covered by health insurance.

6.  Look after yourself.  This encompasses concepts already touched on here, but it bears repeating.  You can’t provide quality care for your loved one if you aren’t at your best.  This means pampering yourself from time to time — take a few minutes to indulge in a hot bubble bath while your mother is taking a nap.  Be sure that you eat nutritional meals, and get plenty of rest and exercise.  Keep up with your hobbies, and spend time with old friends.  Take advantage of opportunities for in-home caregivers and respite services.

7.  Take a break.  This goes to that concept of respite that was mentioned previously.  Taking a few minutes out for yourself is one thing, but you also should plan for some extended breaks.  Plan for a relative or neighbor to spend a week, or a few days, with your loved one while you take some time for yourself.  Consider placing your loved one in a long-term care facility for a few days.  There are a number of different options available.

Read the original article here .

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