If you are a caregiver for a family member, then you know – it’s not an easy role. Caregiving can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. Likely, your family member is navigating a difficult illness experience. Despite their deteriorating health, you need to stay strong and patient so that you can help meet their needs. Under the surface, you might be dealing with emotions like grief, anger, guilt, and anxiety.
With health issues and disability, every day becomes unpredictable. It’s time-consuming. And beyond caregiving for your sick loved one, you might also be a member of the “Sandwich Generation.” You could be simultaneously caring for your own children, while also maintaining a 9-to-5 full-time job.
In this challenging situation, the right resources can help you build structure and avoid caregiver burnout. You can make the caregiver experience easier to manage with the best tools available. In this article, we’ll share caregiver tools and technologies that you can use to help you conserve your energy. You’ll feel more confident that you can handle caregiving practically, logistically, and emotionally.
There are many tasks associated with caregiving. You also need to attend medical appointments and organize your schedule. You might need to help your family member get dressed, bathe, and eat too. At the same time, you need to ensure that you eat well and the rest of your family too.
Many technologies and gadgets can help a family caregiver simplify meal-time. That way, everyone can maintain healthy eating habits and you can reduce the time that you spend preparing meals. For example, consider buying some small kitchen appliances that make cooking convenient, and even fun. Appliances like crock pots, air fryers, rice cookers, and mixers can all help you save your precious energy.
If you want other options to simplify mealtime as a caregiver, consider getting pre-made meals delivered. If you still want to cook, you can subscribe to a meal kit like Hello Fresh or Chef’s Plate. You won’t have to come up with your own meal ideas, and you can access pre-prepared ingredients and simple recipes.
Depending on your loved one’s limitations, you can also consider buying adaptive cooking tools so that they can help you in the kitchen. Examples included plastic lettuce knives for safe chopping or non-slip cutting boards.
Consulting a dietitian can help you feel more confident you are preparing the right foods. You can also look into meal planning apps for your phone/tablet or meal planning websites, which provide innovative solutions to help you stay organized.
Simple and Affordable Home Renovation
Making long-term structural changes to your home can help simplify the work for family caregivers. You can reduce the stress in providing care when you make your home more accessible to accommodate various types of disabilities.
Consider adding railings on stairwells or along the hallway. You can also increase the lighting around your home to illuminate dark areas.
Additionally, family caregivers can explore different security features to provide peace of mind. Some additions can be simple, like adding window locks and door locks. In other cases, you might want to look into more high-tech options, like installing a surveillance system. We shared some other helpful suggestions in our recent article: How To Make A Comfortable And Safe Home For Seniors.
When it comes to creating a safer and more accessible bathroom, you can a permanent tub bar and shower grasp bar. That way, you can help your family member remain more secure as they enter and exit the bathtub for a shower. Transforming your bathtub into an accessible walk-in tub can also make the bathing process easier, quicker, and safer. We help convert bathtubs into step-in tubs for people living in the Greater Toronto Area. You can learn more about our walk-in bathtub conversions on our FAQ page.
Caregiving can be isolating. With your long list of responsibilities, you are busier than ever. Unfortunately, you likely need to withdraw from your regular activities and social life. If your family member needs supervision, you also physically become isolated from your community. Furthermore, it can feel like your identity completely changes since you stop engaging in your usual activities. Your network might not be able to relate to your experience if they haven’t gone through it themselves.
Yet, there are plenty of resources to help caregivers build a solid support system in their caregiving journey.
You can attend a caregiver support group where you can find a safe place to share your experiences and feelings. You can also earn about other caregivers’ coping strategies, feel a sense of connection, and get support from like-minded people.
In recent years, online support groups have emerged as a creative way to access support, one that fits in with your busy and demanding schedule. Online support groups can also offer you more anonymity, allowing you to be more vulnerable than if you were sharing in person.
Organizations like the Ontario Caregiver Organization offer a 24/7 helpline, opportunities for one-on-one peer support, educational webinars, and more. Other companies, like Compassion in Caregiving, provide a mental health community to bring together caregivers. They provide free and paid group support opportunities, as well as one-on-one specialized psychotherapy. If you want a more passive way to feel connected and understood, you can listen to their podcast Caregiver’s Compass to regularly hear from fellow caregivers and experts.
Additionally, websites like CaringBridge can help you share updates with your existing friends and family, all in one convenient location. Others, like Lotsa Helping Hands, help you organize your network in one place so you can coordinate meals and other types of help.
We all have heard the expression “You need to put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others around you.” Self-care is essential for family caregivers, but it’s not easy to find the time.
But it’s crucial to care for ourselves if we want to be effective as a caregiver to our family members. Self-care can help us avoid burnout and maintain our own health.
We all know that it’s helpful to carve out time for breaks, for movement and mindfulness, for creative pursuits, or for relaxation. It’s also important to improve our sleep quality. (We shared some helpful tips in our recent article Five Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Reduce Your Risk Of Falling )
In reality, it can feel impossible and overwhelming to fit self-care into our daily schedule. That’s why it’s important to find tools that can make self-care easy, quick, and convenient.
Meditation apps like Calm, Insight Timer, and Insight Timer can help you quickly find a way to meditate in your free moments. Habit-tracking apps like Habitfy or Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” can help you stay motivated and organized. For quick and free at-home workouts, you can explore YouTube channels like Yoga with Adriene or Blogilates.
If you find reading relaxing, but find it hard to sit down with a good book – try out audiobooks! With apps like Audible or using the library through Libby, you can stimulate your brain while multitasking other tasks, making demanding chores more enjoyable. For more ideas, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shared a great list of 15-minute self-care ideas for the busy caregiver.
Self-care also means taking things off your plate. To stop worrying about bathroom safety, we’d love to work with you to transform your bathtub into an accessible walk-in tub. You can read more about the importance of bathroom safety here.
Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash