Encouraging Self-Care For Caregivers
Most of us with COPD know that our needs will increase as our illness progresses. I am not sure which of us hurts more, ourselves or our caregivers. As hard as my illness is on me, I see the strain on my partner's face. The many things we thought we would do as we aged, mostly won’t happen now.
Who is a caregiver?
For those of us with a partner, like it or not, they usually get to be our caregiver. Some are reluctant and really hate it, while some take it on as a challenge and love it. Some others won’t do it. Other family members will sometimes step up and become caregivers. Sometimes it's the social service agencies that help us with day-to-day tasks. They may be picking up groceries, doing light housework, or transporting to and from doctors. These are considered our caregivers.
Acknowledge your caregiver
Acknowledge to your caregiver that you understand how hard it is to do this ‘job’ on a day-to-day basis. Say it often and repeat it to everyone and within hearing distance of your caregiver. Nobody ever gets tired of being encouraged and nobody ever gets tired of hearing about it. Your caregiver will know you appreciate them when they hear you say it.
What they need
Ask your caregiver what they need and how you can repay them. It’s easier than you realize. You just need to ask the question and be open to their answer. It may be hard for your caregiver to say out loud what they need but encourage them to think about it. They may not know how to ask, but it is necessary that they do, and that they get a positive response.
Keep in mind that our caregivers need to replenish and renew themselves every once in a while. Nobody can work efficiently for extended periods of time without taking a break. It’s not selfish; it’s a necessity that many simply try to ignore. Self-care makes the biggest difference in how our caregivers feel and increases what they are able to give back.
My partner is a sports fanatic. I encourage him to attend live games and events when he can. Sometimes it means just giving over the TV for a night so he can watch a game. He likes to golf as many times as he can during the summer months. I try my best not to make any appointments to make it possible for him to go.
Giving your caregiver alone time every day is an excellent way to let them rejuvenate. My partner is an early bird but I sleep late. He takes care of the dog, puts on a pot of coffee, and experiences quiet time by reading for a few hours in the morning. Since I sleep in, this is 'me time' for him.
Encourage your caregiver to maintain a relationship with their family, and friends outside of you and your house. I make sure to ask for what I will need before he leaves and find a way to entertain myself while he is gone.
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