According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “caregiver” is a person who provides direct help and care for a child, elderly person or someone chronically ill. This simplified explanation does not even begin to comprehend the extent of what a caregiver has to go through. A caregiver is there for a patient day and night, through thick and thin, providing anything that person might need. They are doing what is best for their patient or loved one no matter what.
Caregiving around the Holidays
The holidays can either make the process of caregiving easier or harder. If the person you are caring for is a relative that lives near you, then seeing them often is likely a regular thing for you. If the person you are caring for will be traveling or is not someone you might see over the holidays, keeping in close contact and ensuring proper care can become very difficult. We find that if you will be spending an extensive amount of time away from the person you are caring for, it helps to enlist someone to make sure the patient is cared for. In many cases, this will be a relative of the patient. Contacting them and giving them explicit instructions will help ensure that the patient has a happy and safe holiday.
Being a caregiver doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone. Many people can share in the responsibilities of taking care of a patient or loved one. A major partner in caregiving is the physician and specialists that treat the patient. Keeping in close contact with any person that is providing treatment or medication to the patient can help you make sure the full effect of the treatment is taking hold. Asking questions is key. A physician or pharmacist has no idea what level of knowledge you bring to the table with when you meet with them. There is no question too simple or too fundamental to ask.
A Caregiver’s Plan for the New Year
With a New Year approaching, now is as good a time as any to think about how to be a great caregiver. Here are a few tips we have to help you get started:
- Take care of yourself too. Oftentimes, caregivers are so focused on taking care of the patient or loved one that they lose sight of their own health. Eat healthy, make time for exercise and be sure you’re getting enough rest each night.
- Have your own goals. You are a smart, incredibly strong, compassionate and giving person with your own life goals and dreams. Take up a hobby in your spare time. Have you always wanted to learn how to paint? Now is the time. Remember that project you said you would do? Get started.
- Join a support group. Take to the internet and look up a local support group in your area. You will be able to connect with people in similar situations, make friends that understand and might even be able to find some extra help.
- Wait an hour. Individuals who are dealing with chronic pain and discomfort can often take their bad mood out on those around them. If you’re caring for someone that is especially snappy with you, take it with a grain of salt. Patients often report feeling guilty when they take their pain out on others, especially their caregiver. Remember, the pain associated with lung disease is very real and can sometimes cloud your patient’s manners and emotions. If your patient or loved one snaps at you, give it an hour and then talk about it.
If you or someone you’re caring for has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another chronic lung disease, the Lung Health Institute may be able to help. To learn more about treatment options, contact us or call 888-745-6697.