Caregiving is a complex, ever-changing job – and every situation has its unique differences, too. While there are guides that can help teach you the basics, most things must be learned as you go. There’s really just no substitute for experience.
Still, there are some common mistakes that even seasoned caregivers can make without even realizing it.
Here are just a few to look out for.
1. Setting Lofty Goals
If your goals are unrealistic, they may never be reached.
You simply can’t make promises when it comes to someone’s health or the prospect of a miracle. The best you can do – and what you should do – is to help bolster his or her overall well-being. And we know, sometimes that’s not enough.
Even while you remain optimistic, you also need to allow yourself to be realistic, too. There’s no telling what the future holds.
2. Hampering Independence
As a caregiver, it’s your job to provide assistance, not to do everything yourself. Plus, there are several reasons why it’s important to encourage independence. Not only can it improve someone’s quality of life, but it can also lead to increased longevity.
If the person you’re caring for is struggling with a task, like doing their taxes, try not to completely take over. The same applies for physical tasks that a senior may be struggling with. Step in and lend a helping hand on their terms. Ideally, you need to find the proper balance between both independence and safety.
3. Being Patronizing
To you, it may seem that some older individuals may exhibit some tendencies that are reminiscent of young children. However, there’s a big difference between nurturing a senior and a child.
You should always be respectful – which means not treating a grown adult as a child, regardless of health conditions.
Unless there are blatant communication barriers, you should use the same words, tones, and phrases you would normally. Even if you have to raise your voice for someone hard of hearing, your tone should remain respectful.
4. Arguing or Making Accusations
While something may not sound logical to you, it’s important that you still offer some benefit of the doubt. Suspend your disbelief and ask for clarification if necessary.
This is especially important when dealing with someone who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, too. They may have forgotten that their adult child handles their taxes and insist. Be gentle and remind them, but don’t argue.
It’s possible that the person for whom you’re caring has a cognitive impairment. Maybe they don’t remember something clearly or are misremembering it. Regardless, it isn’t their fault, so it’s not something you should argue about.
Try to avoid jumping to conclusions and instead consider all the possibilities.