The following suggestions can help make you a better and more considerate caregiver:
- Encourage independence: If it takes your father 10 minutes to button his shirt, so be it. The 'I'll-do-it-for-you' attitude leads to work overload (for you) as well as increasing dependence and low self-esteem on the older person's part.
- Set limits: A highly dependent parent can be demanding. You should know your limits and learn how to refuse requests politely but firmly. You could say: 'No, I'm too tired to go to the store today. We'll go tomorrow.' A failure on this count can lead to resentment and a feeling of being ill-treated on the part of the caregiver.
- Make time for fun: Break the routine occasionally by inviting friends and other family members over to watch a funny movie or play cards. A little laughter and a bit of socialising can lift everyone's spirits.
- Encourage your parents to remain active: Also, motivate them to take part in community activities so that they have additional sources of support, and are not totally dependent on you.
- Share the care: When your friends or relatives offer to help, accept it gladly and gratefully.
- Take a break: This aspect is critical. You could risk your own health if you persevere for long periods without a break. Get someone to fill in for you as often and as long as needed.
- Cancel guilt trips: You're bound to experience anger and frustration, but don't let these feelings make you feel guilty, they are normal. Your parents most probably felt the same way about you when you used to give them a hard time as a child !
- Stay active: Even though you may feel limited as far as time and freedom are concerned, do your best to keep your interests in a club or hobby alive. These activities will continue to enrich your life when your caregiving responsibilities are over.