When it comes to caregiving for a family member (oftentimes an elderly/senior), many focuses predominantly on their physical needs. For instance, driving them to their medical appointments, prepping and cooking nutritious meals, helping them with bathing and getting dressed etc.
Many, however, fail to recognise and address the emotional needs of a senior loved one. Compared to other age groups, they are probably our most delicate individuals in society who are prone to isolation and loneliness.
The same could be said for caregivers. Their emotional and mental wellbeing are often neglected in the midst of taking care of their loved one and if you don’t already know, the risk of caregivers suffering from at least one form of chronic disease is almost double to that of non-caregivers.
Here, we are going to explore the importance of emotional support for both seniors and caregivers as well as tips on how to achieve them.
1. Higher Self-Esteem
When one is emotionally well and healthy, they feel good about themselves. They will have a positive outlook to life and will focus on what they can achieve, instead of obsessing over things beyond their control/thinking about the ‘what could have been(s)’.
Hiring a professional caregiver may help you to achieve just that. These are people who are trained to provide emotional support to an elderly loved one as they carry out everyday tasks. From encouraging seniors to eat nutritious food to ensuring them exercise and socialize regularly, they take care of every aspect of a senior’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
Also, given this is their predominant task, the chances of having a senior’s needs overlooked are significantly lower compared to that of a fellow family member as the latter may not be by their side all the time.
For instance, your senior may have difficulty in carrying out a certain task. Professional caregivers are there to spot it right away and are able to step in to assist while preventing any injuries. Your senior will therefore not have the time or chance to dwell on their shortcomings (and thus induce any self-pity), instead, they get to feel a sense of achievement and empowerment that comes from independence.
In the long run, this builds up their self-esteem and you end up having a happier and emotionally-healthier loved one.
2. Stronger Relationships
On the same note, excellent emotional health enables a senior loved one to become a better person. This leads to stronger relationships with their family members which in turn reduces the risk of isolation because well, everyone enjoys interacting with cheerful people instead of those who complain all the time.
Having adequate companionship ensures that can be achieved. For family carers, that can be a bit hard as they may not have enough time to cater to that (they have their own life to juggle) but engaging in-home care services will make that possible.
Depending on individual schedules and needs, you can engage companion care services from a few hours daily to regular weekly programming. An in-home carer will ensure your beloved senior has companion all the time – someone to talk to over a cup of coffee, companionship when taking a walk at the park or simply assistance in getting to social events – they do wonders to a senior’s emotional health.
Be it you have been caregiving for a while or you’ve just gotten into it all of a sudden due to a crisis, many emotions will surface when you take on the job of caregiving. Do not feel guilty – all of them, good and bad, are acceptable and it is important that you address them.
1. Have a support group
This is so important in maintaining a caregiver’s emotional wellbeing. To have someone who understand the challenges of it all who can give encouragement and the occasional pat at the back – it takes a great deal of stress and burden away from a caregiver’s daily grind.
There are plenty of caregiver support groups available online which you can join, otherwise, we strongly recommend speaking to a counsellor. They can provide emotional and psychological support as well as offer advice in managing challenging situations.
Just having someone to talk about your feelings and struggles, an outlet where you can let it all out will do wonders in maintaining one’s own emotional wellness.
2. Respite care
Taking on all the responsibilities of caregiving without regular breaks will surely lead to caregiver burnout and we cannot stress the importance of respite care in preventing that enough.
Enlist the help of friends and family to help you run errands, watch over your loved one for a short period or simply bring you a hot meal. If you feel heavy-hearted having to burden someone else with that, engage respite care services from professional agencies. Don’t try to do it alone.
Not only do you not have to commit to the full-time cost of caregiving services, you get to choose when and the duration of the services you require. Be it the occasional period where you want to take a vacation or simply a few hours weekly, you get to determine it all.
By having such regular breaks in your caregiving journey, you get to take a breather in the midst of it all. You can then return to your caregiving role well rested and rejuvenated, thereby benefitting your beloved senior too.
Be it for seniors or caregivers, everyone has emotional needs that need to be fulfilled at every stage of life.
For the former, emotional wellness is a significant factor that cannot be denied as it has shown to improve good health and reduce stress amongst the aging elderly. For caregivers, taking care of oneself is not a luxury but necessity so make sure you do not neglect that.