Home Instead Blog

Caregiving Tips from the Pros: 8 Words of Advice
Nov 13, 2014

As a family caregiver, you play a vitally important role in the life of your ageing loved one—a role that can also be overwhelming, exhausting and sometimes thankless.

We asked professional Home Instead® CAREGiversSM to share their best advice with you. Here are eight of our favourites to help you on your journey. 

1. Take a break without feeling guilty.
Maggie, a Home Instead CAREGiver in Dublin says, “The one thing I would advise a family caregiver is to allow themselves respite time, at least a couple times each month, without feeling guilty. A refreshed caregiver is a much better provider of care when they themselves have taken a much needed break.”

2. Helping your loved one look good can help them feel good, too.
Galway CAREGiver Theresa says, “Washing their hair, getting a trim or a haircut can vastly improve how they feel and see themselves. Update their clothes as their size changes or they lose a lot of weight. Purchasing two or three brightly coloured, patterned ‘senior bibs’ or ‘painting smocks’ that can be put on and washed every day can also extend the life of their clothes.”

3. Give them the freedom to forget.
Laois CAREGiver Philomena says, “Do not assume your family member remembers even the simple parts of life they've always known. Do not assume they like what they've always liked: music, television, current events, travel, past favourite foods, visiting in large groups of people. Do not assume they remember the person in church greeting them, or the neighbour next door, or even you. Allow them the space to remember and forget at their own pace.”

4. Call or visit regularly.
Donegal CAREGiver Ellen says, “In my years as a caregiver, I have found that most seniors who do not get out much usually experience loneliness. Their phone seldom rings and the television is often left on all day for company. They want to hear the sound of other voices but that doesn't take the place of visiting with other people or spending time out in public.” Ellen suggests setting aside a specific day and time each week to call, to give your loved one something to look forward to. A simple letter or greeting card to let them know they are missed and loved can make their day and remind them that someone cares.

5. Allow them to change and accept when they do.
“Whether it’s a physical disability or behavioural issue, realise that it is okay that your loved one is not the person you remember. Step back and realise the only way they can get peace is to let them be.” – says Cork CAREGiver Michael.

6. Never make them feel incapable, or say “no” outright.
Michael also advises, “Be considerate about things that may be embarrassing to them (e.g., helping them out of a wheelchair). Be as creative as you can be. If they’re confused about what is going on, ease the confusion by asking questions about their past and suggesting activities like going for a drive and pointing out all their favourite locations. Do what you can to make it feel like they weren’t denied anything.”

7. Be patient and respectful.
Tipperary CAREGiver Rose, says: “Regardless of the reasons they need care, it is important to provide loved ones care in ways that are respectful of their dignity and independence. You need to be patient.”

8. Accept help.
“You need to take care of yourself to take care of someone else. If people offer to help, accept the help.” – Marian, Home Instead CAREGiver in Waterford.

If you would like to find out more about how professional Home Instead® CAREGiversSM  can support you care for your loved one, and also allow you the time to care for yourself.  Please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for a free care consultation.