5 Common Caregiver Mistakes To Avoid
Learning about common caregiver mistakes helps you avoid them and ensures you continue giving your loved one the best care possible.
When you care for an aging parent, you have more than your fair share of responsibilities. There’s caregiving, work, household duties, your children’s’ extracurriculars… The list never ends.
Keeping up with them can be difficult. Hopefully, learning about common mistakes caregivers make can help you prepare to prevent them from happening.
1. Not Recognizing The Signs Of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a serious problem. Sadly, some people intentionally target seniors, especially for financial exploitation.
In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the US Department of Treasury, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network found that elder financial exploitation is the most prevalent form of elder abuse.
According to a 2018 report from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, financial exploitation is “a burgeoning public health crisis” and “a virtual epidemic.”
As a caregiver, you focus on your loved one’s physical health and safety. As a result, you might miss the signs of financial abuse.
Of course, you can’t give everything your full attention. But there are a few things you can do to protect your aging parent from fraud, including talking to your loved one about their finances.
It’s important that you conduct routine financial check-ins. Make sure to monitor emails, phone calls, bank statements, and other activities related to their finances.
Ask if they donate to specific charities and research the organization if it’s unfamiliar. Additionally, ask if they gave their Social Security number to anyone and why.
If you can’t track your loved one’s finances, consider asking someone you trust for help. If you can afford one, consider hiring a financial expert, since their main job is monitoring their clients’ finances.
Report any signs of elder abuse or financial exploitation to the proper authorities. Find your state’s elder abuse hotline online or call 9-1-1 if it is an emergency. The Elder Protection Center offers a list of directories where you can get help in your state.
2. Ignoring New Health Problems
It’s not uncommon for older adults to have more than one health concern. When you care for a loved one, it’s up to you to address these problems. But doing so can be difficult, especially if your loved one has multiple health conditions.
When you already have so much on your plate, you might feel tempted to ignore new symptoms instead of addressing them and getting help.
Addressing health issues, particularly mental health problems such as cognitive decline, may feel uncomfortable. For example, if your loved one has dementia, they may act irrationally, making it harder for you to manage their care.
One way to avoid this common caregiver mistake is exercising patience and acceptance. For instance, your loved one has dementia, try not to ask questions that could frustrate or confuse them. They may not know how to answer or remember what to say.
Focus on the positive characteristics of your loved one’s personality. Although their health may change, the good things about them will always stay the same.
Accepting your aging parent as they are can help you let go of some of your frustrations. Patience empowers you to manage the shortcomings that arise with serious health conditions better.
Learning about your loved one’s condition can also help you develop acceptance and patience. Consider researching the problem, its causes, the effects on your parent, and ways to help them be more comfortable.
Putting yourself in your loved one’s shoes helps you connect and understand their needs. Consider joining support groups for caregivers in your situation. Not only will you find camaraderie, but you may also find helpful, practical advice to make your job easier.
3. Neglecting Your Physical Health
Caregiving comes with many physical demands. Depending on your loved one’s capabilities, you may help with tasks such as transferring in and out of bed, dressing, bathing, and more.
All of these activities can take a toll on your physical health. When you have a million things to do, you might feel like you don’t have time to care for yourself.
However, ignoring your body isn’t just one of the common caregiver mistakes; it’s also one of the most serious.
Your loved one relies on you to help them with day-to-day tasks. When you are physically unable to perform these duties, both you and your parent’s quality of life can quickly decline.
To avoid the risk of injury, make sure you take protective measures such as wearing comfortable shoes or a back brace.
Also, consider talking to your parent about home modifications for aging in place, including a chair lift to help your parent use the stairs or a bed hoist to assist with transfers.
It’s also essential that you incorporate physical activity like light cardio or stretching into your day. In addition to exercise’s physical benefits, it will help your mental and emotional states, too.
4. Overlooking Caregiver Training
For caregivers, having a routine is everything. It makes it easier to plan your week and stay on top of other areas of your life.
However, caregiving requires constant development. Because this role comes with so many moving parts, incorporating training into your routine is a necessity.
Training can inform you about new procedures and skills to enhance the care you provide your loved one. As you become more competent and proficient, some aspects of caregiving may become more manageable.
Look online for courses and training programs in your area. Due to the pandemic, you may find affordable online classes you can attend from home.
Self-improvement will help you feel more confident and positive about your role as a caregiver. And, of course, your loved one will appreciate your efforts to give them the best possible care.
5. Not Giving Yourself Enough Personal Time
How often have you neglected your personal life because you feel like you don’t have the time? It’s one of the most common caregiver mistakes, but it’s also extremely detrimental.
Not setting time aside for yourself is one of the surest ways to experience caregiver burnout. It can also cause various other issues, such as depression, substance abuse, or social isolation.
As a caregiver, you naturally want to help others. You may also struggle to turn down requests for help. However, saying “no” is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Asking others for help when you need a break is just as crucial.
Remember, you can’t give your loved one the care they deserve when you neglect yourself. Consider researching respite care options or seeing a therapist. These can go a long way to preserving your mental health so you can continue doing your best.
Reserve time for yourself every day, even if it’s for five minutes. You can meditate, work on a hobby, or pursue something new. Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
You may feel guilty or selfish for taking this time to yourself. But remind yourself that it’s necessary to recharge so you can come back to your duties refreshed and energized.
Self-care also means supporting your physical health. You should take walks, maintain a healthy diet, and get enough sleep. These actions help regulate your mental and emotional states and increase your resilience. As a result, you will be able to overcome the challenges of caregiving more easily.
Meetcaregivers + You
You may feel like your day is one endless to-do list. But you should know that you are valued, and your work is essential.
It’s okay if you make some of these common caregiver mistakes. These suggestions can help you better manage your caregiving responsibilities:
- Talk to your loved one about their finances and look for signs of fraud
- Exercise patience and acceptance if your aging parent has a health concern
- Learn about your loved one’s health condition to get a better perspective
- Use the right tools to prevent injury when caring for an elderly loved one
- Incorporate physical activity and stretching into your day
- Learn new skills and develop current ones through caregiver training
- Practice self-care and make time for yourself
If you need assistance, Meetcaregivers can help. Contact us online or call 1-888-541-1136 for more information.
For more information about caregiving and resources for seniors, check out the blog.
- Landgraf, Brandon. “5 Common Caregiving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Carex.com, carex.com/blogs/resources/5-common-caregiving-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them.
- Wilson, Pamela D. “Top 10 Caregiving Mistakes.” Pamela D Wilson | The Caring Generation, 25 Mar. 2019, pameladwilson.com/top-10-caregiving-mistakes-family/