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Being a family caregiver requires a high level of compassion and personal sacrifice, and it’s easy to neglect your own health and interests. But in order to be a good caregiver, you must practice self-care, too. The happiest, healthiest caregivers have a solid support system in place, and here are five ideas to get you started.

Enlist the help of family members. Categorize daily caregiving tasks into what needs to be done now, what can wait, what can be done by someone else, and what really does not have to be done. Take the tasks that can be done by someone else, note who in family would best accomplish them, and get on the phone. Tell family members help is needed and ask them to pitch in. Then do your best and give yourself permission to not worry so much about the rest.

Arm yourself with knowledge. Knowledge is a great tool for caregivers, from learning about a loved one’s disease to being able to prepare for physical and emotional changes. Contact your local Regional Area Agency on Aging to find out the resources available you. Resources include nonprofits, government and health care organizations, home care services, financial and legal help, and much more. Visit Caregiving101store.com to find a selection of caregiver guides and other resources.

Get help to prevent hunger. There are a variety of programs to help seniors get proper nutrition. If your loved one doesn’t qualify for federal or state nutrition programs, consider a service like Mom’s Meals. Mom’s Meals delivers nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared meals to customers’ homes. Designed to meet the needs of our aging population, each meal contains fresh foods, is microwaveable and will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Build social communities. Find support and feel less alone by connecting with others. Thriving caregiver communities can be found on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, blogs, forums — and don’t forget YouTube, the second-largest search engine in the world! When building connections, look for people you know, experts in caregiving, and helpful companies and brands.

Hire professional help as needed. If an elderly loved one needs in-home care, respite care, personal care or companionship, there are services that can help. Visiting Angels, Home Instead are just two examples of national, private-duty networks that provide nonmedical senior care. The customer chooses the services, selects the caregiver and dictates schedules for feeding, bathing, etc.  The National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) offers training and Home Care Certification for caregivers to ensure the quality of care provided – ask the agency you select if their caregivers have HCC certification.

 

About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.