Managing time takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a full time caregiver. Flying by the seat of your pants is not an option when a loved one is depending on you for basically everything. You have to find a way to use your time wisely while making your loved one feel secure and cared for. Working out a good schedule can take a lot of pressure off of you and make your loved one’s days a lot better. A good schedule can be a lifesaver should someone have to step into your shoes for a few hours or even a few days.
Walking a Mile in Another’s Moccasins
Can you imagine having to depend on someone else for your meals, your transportation and even your personal hygiene? Most of our parents have lived their lives fiercely independent, something they prided themselves on. Now they have to depend on one of their children? What a humbling experience that must be. Working out a good schedule can make them feel they have a little more control over their day. Knowing when they will eat, get dressed, take a little nap and watch their favorite shows can make them feel a lot more secure. So include them in the planning of your schedule when at all possible. Some of our folks like to sleep in a while in the morning while others like to rise very early. Consider what is comfortable for them.
Have a Schedule But Be Flexible
Having a good schedule is like having “good bones” to your day. How you “flesh it out” from one day to the next will depend on the health of your loved one and the appointments that must be kept. Sometimes your loved one will need more rest and those doctor’s visits and other necessary appointments can truly mess up the day. Just do your best to get back on schedule once you both return home.
Don’t Keep It a Secret
Once you work out a good schedule, make sure to write it down and post it on the refrigerator or another conspicuous place so your loved one can see it. Also let other family members and frequent visitors know when your parent likes to take a little nap or watch that favorite television show. Should someone have to relieve you, they’ll be aware of the routine and feel more comfortable helping you.
Meals and Snacks
Planning meals and snacks can also save you a lot of time and unnecessary additional trips to the store. Go over the week’s menu with your loved one. You might find out their food choices have changed. Remember older people really enjoy something sweet each day, even if it’s yogurt, fruit or those little pudding cups. Soup is also a good choice for seniors. It’s easy to eat and comforting. Just try to choose the lower salt varieties.
When I worked at an assisted living facility, meal times were the favorite time of day for almost every resident. Try to sit down and eat together, or invite a neighbor or family member by for lunch once a week. Meals taste so much better when they are paired with good conversation! Don’t you think so?
The Last Important Thought
Being a caregiver has to be the hardest job on earth. I cannot stress this enough — take care of yourself! Caregivers often fall ill while caring for someone they love. You must take time to eat right, sleep right and get away from time-to-time. If you don’t, you will burn out, or get sick or both. Don’t wait until you’re at the end of your rope; find a local in-home care agency before you need them. Know which assisted living facilities offer respite care. It might just save your sanity and your life.