Life Hacks for Caregivers

You’ve probably heard of “life hacks” before and how they can be simple ways of doing something that’s otherwise complicated. In other words, a life hack is a way to get something accomplished in a much easier way.

Caregiving can be frustrating, stressful, tiring… and rewarding. Being a good caregiver requires flexibility, creative problem-solving, and a sense of humor – skills that don’t often come easily when we’re stressed.

When you find yourself struggling with your caregiving responsibilities, try these three caregiving tips and hacks.

Our Top 3 Tips for Caregivers

Caregiving Hack #1: “Yes, and…”

Here’s the hack: use improv to minimize arguments between the caregiver and the person receiving care.

Dementia is a progressive illness with stages characterized by varying abilities and cognition. During the early to middle stages, people may insist that something is real when it’s not – perhaps that someone long dead is still alive or that they can see a person or animal thing that’s not there. Instinct guides us to set them straight, right? We might want to say, “Like I told you before, Uncle Joey has been gone for 23 years!” However, there’s not much to be gained with this tactic. Instead, people have found more success – and much less stress – by employing a classic improv technique of saying, “Yes, and…?”

Imagine you are at a comedy club and someone on stage says to the other actor, “I’m a silly monkey!” The other actor replies, “No, you’re just an actor.” Scene over. Whereas, if the other actor says, “Yes, and…?” the scene continues and a conversation and connection happen, maybe some laughs. This way the caregiver is not in the role of naysayer but creating a deeper relationship and giving comfort. Instead of reminding a loved one how long Uncle Joey has been gone maybe it’s a chance to say, “Tell me about him.”

Caregiving Hack #2: Make It Scented

Here’s the hack: If you’re concerned about someone’s safety in the kitchen, meet them halfway by creating the familiar aromas of their favorite foods.

Kitchens are warm, inviting places filled with memories of delicious meals, families coming together, and holidays shared. Kitchens are also slightly dangerous with sharp objects, fire, and slick surfaces. As people age, the kitchen can become hazardous.

Since keeping them out of the kitchen strips away something that brought them joy, as a compromise, fill the house with their favorite aromas for them to enjoy. For example, if your mom loves a fresh cup of coffee each morning, then make it. Or get an automated coffeemaker so that she can still enjoy the smell of her daily cup of coffee (without the risk of spilling hot water on herself to make it). Or, if it’s the smell of freshly baked cookies, get pre-made dough to bake when you visit. The time saved on mixing the dough you can use to catch up instead.

Caregiving Hack #3: Don’t Go It Alone

Here’s the hack: get backup help.

The reality is that caregivers are human too and they need to enjoy their own simple pleasures, maintain their social connections, and stay healthy. While it’s tempting to sacrifice well-being for someone in need, that’s a quick way to become another person in need.

Caregivers should always be plural, with more than one to help out and create variety and balance for all involved. Backup help can be from other family members, as long as you communicate clearly and each person is honest about what they’re comfortable and capable of doing.

Here are some suggestions to make sure you don’t shoulder the entire caregiving burden:

  • Are your brothers mad at each other and don’t want to be there at the same time? Ask them to alternate days or weeks to visit Mom.
  • Consider dropping your dad off for a social activity with friends or at an adult daycare facility.
  • Need a vacation? Ask if your cousin can come for two weeks next month in your place.
  • Seek professional options, such as in-home care with a professionally trained caregiver.

Choose Homewatch CareGivers for Professional Support

When it’s time to call in reinforcements, you can count on Homewatch CareGivers. Our compassionate caregivers are trained and experienced in working with clients of all ages who are living with all kinds of conditions. To schedule a complimentary consultation with your local Homewatch CareGivers, call (888) 404-5191 or click the button below.

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