Gentrie is a caregiver and partner of a quadriplegic, who has an MS in communication, focusing on the interpersonal dynamics of caregiving support. Not only is she knowledgable for her own personal experience, but she has worked tirelessly to support caregivers in finding solidarity, tips, and in caring for themselves (something that many caregivers often forget to do).
Top tips for caregiving success
- Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself.
- Take care of yourself as best you can.
- Non caregivers can never truly understand your situation so don't judge or resent them too much. They don't know what they don't know.
- Accept help when it's offered.
- Don't judge other caregivers harshly when they have more help or an 'easier' go of it than you. No two situations are exactly the same. Don't feel guilty if other caregivers have it harder or have less help than you.
- Keep your faith strong--whether it's your religion, your values, or a combination thereof. Don't judge others if their faith looks different than yours.
- Incorporate events into your week as consistently as you can with the person you care for...that allow you to just be their friend or family member and NOT their carer.
- As hard as we have it, the journey of our loved ones for whom we care is just different. They are not capable of 'getting it' completely from your point of view and you will never completely 'get it' from theirs. Give grace.
- Set boundaries. Don't give in to people pleasing. You know your limits. Don't feel obligated to attend every family or friend function. Be honest about why you can't or won't attend. Let them know that you are not discouraging them from future invites even if you are in a season of low to no participation. If they get upset with you that is just an indication that they are not in your shoes. Don't get upset.
- Practice gratitude DAILY.
- It's ok for your emotions to be all over the place...sometimes. Any more than that, seek professional help. Counseling, medication, exercise, respite, are just a few examples to discuss with your health care provider.
- Don't give in to a victim mentality. If you need something beyond your scope, come up with an actionable plan to deal with it. In other words, don't be a constant nag or complainer.
- Remember, your value and worth are not dependent on any one else's view of you or your life.
- When/if people offer help with open ended statements like: 'I'm here if you need me', 'just call', or 'let me know if you need anything'...Come up with a concrete list of things you actually need done and share some of those. Don't under play your needs. People truly don't know how to be helpful sometimes (even though you may think it's obvious) but genuinely wish to be.
- Share any resources, helpful groups, etc. that you have because even though you may think others are aware, a lot of other caregivers simply are not. You never know who you could be helping.
- If you are being abused or neglected, that's not acceptable. I don't care if the person is disabled or not. If the person you're caring for is being selfish, they are probably failing to consider your point of view or your role… It's best to address these things. It's also best to address these things when you were not in the heat of the moment or the heat of how you feel emotionally. Steer clear of approaching it in an accusatory way… But in a loving way. Help your loved one see how they can best show you love and comfort by explaining to them what that looks like for you. Don't assume they know. You will probably have to have that conversation over and over again. But that's okay. Don't point out their failures in this regard, point out their successes. Certainly do not address these issues in public. Praise in public… Anything else should be done in private.
- NEVER ever give up.
And there you have it, top notch advice for caregiving success from a woman who's been there, done that. Share this post with caregivers who need a boost and some good advice.