We tell others that everything will be okay when they experience life-altering situations. The truth is that it is hard to understand their plight. It sounds nice to say something when someone is hurting, but saying the wrong thing can be just as bad as saying nothing at all. Instead of speaking words devoid of meaning, show that you know how that person feels. A loved one needs to know that someone is trying to see things from their perspective.
Here are a few tips to help you become that better caregiver your loved one needs right now.
1. Know the signs. When a person experiences an illness or accident that leaves them disabled physically or mentally, they go through a variety of emotions. The first is unbelief. Their accident was a bad dream and they want to wake up. A loved one dealing with physical challenge will have periods of denial, anger, depression, self-loathing, and indifference. Dealing with those phases won’t be easy but knowing what they are can help.
2. Talk to them. People are afraid to sit down and talk with a loved one about how they feel. Often, everyone is so afraid of offending them that they do all the wrong things. Learn how they are feelings about their new challenge and the future by taking the time to ask them. Your loved one may respond better if they are an active participant in their own care.
3. Don’t take it personally. It’s easy to get offended, frustrated, and put off from loved ones going through a rough time with their physical or mental challenge. They are lashing out as a way of coping and you just happen to be a convenient target. Focus on helping your loved one and do the best you can to ignore the outbursts.
4. Learn about their condition. We have a hard time dealing with an ill, loved one because we don’t understand the ins and outs of their condition. Read books, attend seminars, and ask the doctors about the diagnosis. Ask about treatments and physical therapy, if applicable, where you can participate in getting your loved one back on their feet.
5. Attend a support group. A good caregiver knows when it is time to step back from the situation to take care of themselves. In order to keep a perspective on your loved one, take a break from being a caregiver every now and then. Support groups allow caregivers to express their feelings and vent any frustrations they experience as full or part-time caregivers.
Being a caregiver is not easy. Taking on the responsibility of care for a parent, spouse, sibling, or child can consume a large majority of our time. To become a better caregiver, learn to take care of yourself as well as staying informed about your loved one’s challenge.