Guest Post: Sally Perkins' Tips for Caregiving
Today, I am honored to welcome Sally Perkins to my blog with some tips for caregivers. For those of you in this position, she has a great article with 30 Tips for Caregivers that you should check out. Here is a sample of some of her tips:
Caregiving? Replenish Your Energy
We tend to think of caregivers as people who are doing things for someone. And while it’s true that caregivers do a lot of things -- cleaning, cooking, shopping etc., caregiving is way much more than just doing. Caregiving is an act of love. It’s astonishing to think of all the ways in which a caregiver gives to a loved one, with the strength of their bodies, hearts and minds. Which is why caregivers need to replenish their energy.
Time to take a day off
If you’re a parent, you know the drill. You cook, you clean, you shop, you do the laundry, then you do it all over again. If you’re a caregiver as well, then you get to do it three times over. There’s no doubt about it, you will get physically exhausted. When you’re wiped out, remember that you’re no good to anyone. Love yourself enough to stop and take a deep breath. It’s probably time to take a day off.
If you’re taking a day off from caregiving, here’s one excellent piece of advice: take the day off. Don’t use your day off to catch up on other errands, tempting as that may be. Here’s the trick. Identify three day-off activities that you find personally relaxing and if possible, a companion to make sure you stick to the plan. A day at the spa; lunch and a movie; it doesn’t matter what, as long as it relaxes you
Need help? Take it
A word to the wise: if you try to be everything for everyone it will end badly. Don’t try to do everything yourself. A caregiver need not be ashamed to ask for help. Divvy out chores in exchange for treats. Every little bit of help counts. Kids can take the trash out, load the dishwasher, play a board game with Grandpa. When a neighbor asks if they can do anything for you, say yes. Do a bit of research to find out what kind of help is available in your area. You might be pleasantly surprised at the range of resources for caregivers that are out there for you. For example, did you know that there are people in your community who have signed up to help caregivers with tasks like meal delivery and driving to appointments. All you have to do is request the help?
Build your energy
You’re not going to make it if you don’t build up your energy. Take care of yourself so you have the strength for caregiving. Exercise and diet are two open secrets in this regard. Where are you to get the time, you might wonder? It’s time to get creative. Become an expert on quick workout sessions. When all else fails, organize an evening dance session for the family. Dancing can be an amazing workout and lots of fun. Learn how to make quick, healthy meals. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look into getting meals delivered to the person you care for. In addition to a nutritious meal, they will be getting companionship too.
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.
Writers write about the places and emotions they know best.
For me, the storyline in Then Comes Love came largely from my observations and interactions at my grandfather’s apartment complex.
My grandfather moved to my hometown a few years ago. He’d spent his entire adult life in a house in Scottsdale. It was where he lived with my grandmother for their fifty plus years of marriage. He raised his children there, worked there, retired there.
Now he lives close to our family in an apartment complex for those 55 and older. It’s a wonderful community of people in this unique stage of life, battling with holding onto the past while also trying to figure out what the future might hold. In many ways, these living centers have their own unique social systems that don’t just involve those living there; the families and loved ones of the residents often are pulled into an interesting social climate as well.
Thus, the idea to set this book around the setting of an assisted living center came to me. I thought about the struggles residents face, giving up their homes and everything they’ve ever known to start a new life. I thought about the identity crisis I’ve heard many talk about at this stage in their lives.
And I thought about love.
I’ve seen romances blossom in the halls of my grandfather’s apartment complex. Women and men who’ve lost their spouses often find their hearts opened again thanks to relationships with those around them. Love doesn’t just shut off at a certain age. I’ve heard some residents talk about how they know more about love now than in their younger years.
I also wanted to capture the difficulties faced by the families of the residents in these places. It isn’t easy being a caregiver…I’ve seen how my mom struggles to balance her own life with the needs of my grandfather on a weekly basis. Annie’s struggles are the struggles of so many with aging parents, and it isn’t an easy situation to be in, physically or emotionally.
Finally, I wanted to capture the humor that is often a part of homes for the aging. I can tell you there aren’t any Catherines in my grandfather’s apartment building, at least to my knowledge. But there are Catherine-like comments over trivial matters. There are interesting situations and hilarious observations. There are friendships and frenemies, new romances and interesting events. If you’ve ever been to an assisted living center, a retirement complex, or a nursing home, you know that things are truly never dull. I wanted this energy to be a driving force in the setting of my novel.
Then Comes Love is a novel that exposes feelings and struggles I think many will be able to relate to. Aging, whether it is happening to us or a loved one, is something that forces change for us all, change that can sometimes be difficult to accept. Charlotte, Annie, and Amelia, however, show us that sometimes humor, friendship, and family love can make the change at least bearable if not welcome.
Then Comes Love releases March 18th with Hot Tree Publishing.
At ninety-three, my grandfather has survived a lot. He lived through WWII, serving in the war. He lived through the death of my grandmother, the death of a son, bouts with skin cancer, and a heart attack.
With all of the things he’s survived have come many changes. A few years ago, he left the house he bought with my grandmother, the house my mother grew up in, to move closer to our family in Hollidaysburg. He moved into an apartment complex for the aging, and had to get used to a completely new type of life.
It hasn’t always been an easy adjustment, especially for my mother.
Although my grandfather is able to live independently, my mother truly serves as his caregiver. She is his apartment cleaner, grocery buyer, laundry washer, bill payer, finance organizer, pill refiller, question answerer, and everything else in between.
It’s not an easy job.
Caregiving: The Balancing Act
Like so many, my mom has had to make the adjustment in her life from being the child to being the caregiver. It is a tough task. Not only does my mom work full-time and keep her own life going, she has to also take on my grandfather’s household, keeping it managed and working. Add to that the role she plays in my life, and she’s a busy woman.
So many people don’t realize how difficult it can be when your parents age. With the role of caregiver, even if it is for an independent parent, comes a very tenuous balancing act. Essentially, my mom is constantly balancing three households: her own, my grandfather, and mine. It’s wearing, it’s taxing, it’s stressful, and it’s frustrating.
But she does it with patience and grace. She does it because she has to, but she also does it because she is an amazing, caring person.
I think many women in this age range find themselves in this hectic balancing act. That’s really what inspired the character of Annie in Then Comes Love.
Like so many women in their fifties, Annie is trying to care for her mother while also keeping tabs on her thirty-two-year-old daughter. Annie suffers with feeling like she never really has her own life and feeling worn out. Add to that a divorce and career issue, and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm of a mid-life crisis.
There are many humorous issues Annie has to deal with, some based on my understanding of caregiving through my mom’s eyes as well as my time visiting my grandfather’s apartment complex. Switching to a new life in a place for the elderly isn’t easy on anyone, and it is accompanied by its share of complexities.
Then Comes Love, among other things, seeks to focus on the hectic, stressful, but also humorous life that can unfold when the elderly are forced to find a new place to live.