Care for The Caregiver
22 March 2021
Caregivers are often some of the most unselfish people globally, constantly looking out for others’ needs before ever considering themselves. However, caregivers have to make sure they put on their masks….no, not the ones we are all having to wear in our world today, but the mask that the airlines provide in the case of an emergency. During preflight instructions, airline staff always remind us to put the air masks on ourselves first before considering helping anyone, including our loved ones. Is that because we are more important? Of course not! It is a way of showing love to those we are caring for! If we do not put on our mask first, we may pass out from lack of oxygen and be unable to help those around us.
This is the same mindset that caregivers need to use as they daily consider the needs of those in their care. If the caregiver becomes burned out, emotionally weary, or experiences health problems from neglecting their own health and conditions, then that person will be of little or no use to their loved one(s).
Caregivers Use the STOP Model
We have the STOP Model taught as an essential tool when working with traumatized children, but this model can significantly help caregivers too. The first is Structure. You have to plan for others to help you, plan opportunities to receive a break, create time in your daily schedule where you have time for yourself while meeting your loved one’s needs. Talking and Time is the second element. You need time to discuss the care of your loved ones with other family members or other caregivers.
Organized Play for Adults
Additionally, it would be best if you had time to talk with others about anything else to give your mind a break and feel connected to other topics of discussion going on in the world. Find trusted friends you can meet consistently to provide you with these times for “other” conversations. Organized Play is equally important for adults. Plan time for you to do things you enjoy and stick to those scheduled times. Anything from exercise and playing board games to doing art/craft projects and reading can be included in adult Organized Play. The key is to find anything you enjoy, giving you a mental and physical break from your routine. Lastly is the element of Parental Support. For caregivers, this will involve finding others who can provide that support and care to you, ones who can help hold you accountable.
As you consider the needs you have to be an effective caregiver, keep in mind making sure you are taking care of your own physical health by keeping doctors’ appointments, diet, exercise, rest, and sleep. The Alzheimer’s Association also has many wonderful ideas that all caregivers can utilize, which can be found at www.alz.org/care. Give yourself credit for all you are doing and accomplishing, and realize that God did not intend for you to do it all alone. May God bless you, guide you and grant you wisdom as you consider care for yourself and your loved one(s)!
Amy Wilson serves as Director of Education for CCTI. She homeschools her two sons, ages 15 and 10, and lives with her husband and kids in NC. She is excited to see how God has utilized CCTI’s online classes and materials to help many ministries throughout COVID-19.