47 Powerful Lessons and Advice from Family Caregivers
If you are one of the 66 million people serving as a family caregiver, I’m sure you’ll agree that caregiving can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed out, and confused… and that’s before lunch! You likely took on the role of family caregiver without any training or coaching. This just adds to the overwhelm. In this article, I’m sharing 47 caregiver lessons learned and advice from family caregivers who understand the challenges you face.
Whether you are a new caregiver or have been taking care of loved ones awhile, I trust you will garner at least one thing that will help you along your journey… or at least feel like you aren’t alone!
Whether you are a new caregiver or have been taking care of loved ones awhile, I trust you will garner at least one thing that will help you along your journey… or at least feel like you aren’t alone! Click To Tweet
What I learned from being a caregiver
One day I was busy driving my mom to a radiation oncology doctor’s appointment and we were running 15 minutes late. I was stressing out because it took my dad 30 minutes to put on his shirt and he literally thought he was the King of England.
He had just been released from neurological rehabilitation a week prior. Here I was driving like a mad woman when, at the freeway exit stop, I turned my head to see my mom happy and bopping her leg to the song on the radio – not a care in the world.
I made a DECISION at that MOMENT to enjoy the song with her. I turned up the radio and started singing and dancing in the car. I learned a LOT from being a caregiver.
Here are My 7 Key Caregiving Lessons learned:
- Humor heals. The more we focused on humor (often laughing at ourselves), the less stressed we felt. Humor helps put things in perspective.
2. Gratitude is a must. I found something… anything to be thankful for each day.
3. Mindset is huge. We have the power within to be, do and have anything. I have helped heal myself from cancer, a hernia, PE and more and can attest that our mindset determines our reality.
4. Self-Care is critical. I recently heard someone say that self-care is the new healthcare. I really believe this is true.
5. Everyone deserves and needs a voice; especially when they don’t have one.
6. It’s never too early to plan your legacy.
7. Giving our time, patience, compassion, and love is the highest form of service there is.
Here are 40 Caregiver Lessons Learned
and Advice from Family Caregivers
I asked my communities what they have learned from being a caregiver and got a tremendous response. Here are the additional 40 best pieces of advice for caregivers:
- Absolutely e-ver-y-th-ing takes longer. Getting my Mom ready for & taking her to a Dr appt. was an all-day event; it just was. Definitely learn patience. And yes humor, laughing at ourselves is essential.
- That we can’t do everything the way other people think we should, patience, and yes everything, everywhere you go takes so much more time.
- Every patient is different, and their disease/ disability affects them differently than it may affect another person.
- Take care of yourself first so you can be better at taking care of your loved one.
- Learn how to smile and redirect.
- I have learned that as a caregiver we must wear many hats. I have learned that i must be a business person, a medical professional, an advocate, a mechanic, plumber etc.
- I have learned that everything I do is watched by everyone else and judged. I do so with a smile knowing that some may not like what I do, but as long as my caree is happy and safe that’s all that matters.
- Don’t sweat the small things.
- Everything we do we have learned by watching others – taking from those lessons that which work for us and then putting the rest on the back burner in case it can be used at another time.
- The difficult part is remaining polite when we are so frazzled – nodding and saying, “thank you” for each suggestion and then either using it or not.
- I’ve learned even in the darkest times there’s always something to be thankful for.
- We must take the time to slow down even when we get so caught up in exhaustion.
- I have learned that it is okay to just go with the flow and to cancel and move plans around according to how my caree is doing that day or moment.
- As long as my caree is content and happy I have been successful.
- It’s ok if the floors don’t always get mopped, or the carpets vacuumed, or dishes done exactly to the timetable I want.
- It is more important to just be beside my mom when she needs it. I hate this Alzheimer’s and how much it has stolen from my mom. But every day that she knows who she is and who I am is a treasure.
- I’ve learned how to be an adult. My mom used to do everything for me but now I do everything for her and I’m learning about the bills, paying taxes, dealing with the welfare office. I’m doing a lot of things that I’ve never done before.
- I’ve learned we have only this day and to make it count.
- When everything seems to be against you is when I learned to just be still, listen to my heartbeat and know I am ok to go on.
- Changing my whole life around to take care of my loved one was what I was meant to do. Life goes on after a loved one’s passing but one thing is for sure we will never have a redo…EVER!
- Patience – it was never a virtue that I possessed but I’ve had no choice but to have it.
- Strength – you have no idea how strong you are until you have no choice but to be strong.
- Time – not just how important every second with your loved ones is and how you should make the most of it but also that I need time to adjust and take care of myself so I can take care of my loved one.
- Friends/Family – I’ve really learned who is there for me, and my caree, and who I can count on.
- Love – I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and loved my dad but seeing him go through this terrible disease that is vascular dementia and both the prospect of losing him to it and him eventually not knowing who I am….well, I really know how much I love my dad. 3
- I wish I went more with the flow.
- I’ve learned how to get food into a person who does not want to eat.
- Respecting individualities.
- Find humor where and when you can.
- So what if you are a little late. (Except for doctors appointments!)
- Sometimes it is okay to not do anything!
- I learned that all that we can do in any situation is our best and that is ok.
- Treasure every moment that you have with your loved ones and don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Live your life and don’t let anything or anyone steal your joy.
- I also learned how to deal with, forgive and have compassion for those who are not capable of dealing with traumatic events that happen to those that they love.
- No criticizing – no making fun of the person you are caring for.
- Respect & Patience!
- Live day by day. Don’t plan big things.
- If they feel good, take advantage and do something. If not, stay in rest for the next better day.
- A good sense of humor can work wonders. Most of all, I learned that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was; and, that life in these flesh bodies is short when you compare it to an eternity.
What pieces of advice and lessons learned resonated with you the most and why? Comment below! If you have advice to share, feel free to comment with this and I may include it in future updates to this article.
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