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Supporting Family Caregivers

In a 2007 Ipsos-Reid survey, one in three Canadians age 45 to 60 reported being caregivers to aging family members. Family and friends provide an estimated 80 percent of senior care. But, serving as a loved one’s primary caregiver can be demanding and stressful.

But you don’t have to do it alone! There are many resources available to you.

Respite Care: Relief for the Family

It is important for family caregivers to take a break from providing care for their loved ones. This break can be beneficial to both the caregiver and the one receiving care. Nonstop caregiving will zap your energy and take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health.

Comfort Keepers of Cambridge & Brantford can provide you with respite care services with caregivers providing you with the break you need. After a break, you will return refreshed and more effective. A respite could be just a day away with friends, an afternoon of personal errands, an exercise break or it could be a vacation, away from it all.

As a caregiver, you can find relief from numerous sources:

  • Friends and family. Having a list of assignments ready, preparing meals, going to the grocery store, going for a walk with loved ones or staying with them from time-to-time are always for them to help out.
  • Professional in-home senior care providers, such as Comfort Keepers®
  • Churches or other volunteer organizations
  • Adult day care centres
  • Organizations and other local resources

Before planning respite care, be sure to talk to your loved one about it and explain how it can benefit everyone. To help your loved one accept the idea of having new caregivers be sure to involve him or her in making the arrangements.

How to Care for Yourself and Prevent Burnout for Caregivers

Besides scheduling regular respites, Comfort Keepers of Cambridge & Brantford recommends that you practice the following to relieve stress and maintain optimal health:

  • Exercise—make it part of your schedule for added energy.
  • Get plenty of sleep—at least seven hours— and eat regular, well-balanced meals.
  • Maintain contact with friends for essential emotional support. Arrange for a family member, friend or volunteer from a church or senior centre to call you on a regular basis to see if you need any help.
  • Stay involved in hobbies and social activities.
  • Join a support group, which can encourage you and back you up with experienced advice.
  • Visit your doctor regularly and share concerns you have about the effects of caregiving on your physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Take time to pamper yourself—for instance, a warm bath, manicure or massage.
  • Find humor in everyday situations and take time out with a humorous book or movie.
  • Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. It provides an essential release for your emotions.
  • Confide in others. Do not bottle up your emotions.
  • Know your limits. You know what other responsibilities you have, so be realistic about how much time you can give to caregiving. Do not be afraid to delegate.
  • Learn as much as you can about caregiving and your loved one’s needs or illness. The more you know, the more effective and more satisfied you can be.

How a Support Group Can Help You

Community Support Groups…

  • Get you out of the house on a regular basis and prevent isolation.
  • Put you face-to-face with other caregivers who know what you are dealing with. From their experience, they can offer relevant advice.
  • Offer information about local resources available to help you.
  • Open the opportunity for new friendships.

Internet Support Groups…

  • Enable you to get support and advice as needed at any time of the day.
  • Provides support without having to leave the house.
  • Provide the experience and knowledge of a broader pool of participants, which could be especially helpful if your loved one has a rare medical condition and special care needs.

Caregiver Support and Advice on the Web

You will find a wealth of online resources to provide caregiving support and advice. Here are a few examples:

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