Caring for a loved one with a disability can be a challenging but rewarding job, whether the disability came on suddenly or your loved one was born with it. Because the job can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, it’s important to have a routine or strategy in place to ensure the days go as smoothly as possible.
Communication is Key
It’s okay if your loved one uses a different mode of communication than what you’re used to. The key most important thing is to take the time to learn and understand your loved one’s communication style. Being able to communicate clearly with one another will make everyone’s lives easier.
Along with establishing a routine, communication can also help you determine which self-care and personal tasks your loved one can accomplish independently. Allowing as much personal independence as possible will give your loved one confidence and a sense of dignity. It also ensures that you can save your time and energy for tasks your loved one truly needs assistance with.
Stay Active in the Community
Your loved one wants to live a full and active lifestyle just as much as anyone else does. Staying active in the community is of the utmost importance. Provide your loved one with as many opportunities as possible to integrate within the community.
Go on social outings. Take a class. Attend local events. Have fun.
Find out what your loved one is interested in and search for ways for him or her to engage in those interests.
Don’t be afraid to travel either. There are several travel agencies that can assist with special needs travel. When you’re prepared, vacations are an enriching and fulfilling experience.
Help Your Loved One Apply for Benefits
If an elderly or adult loved one has suddenly become disabled, you can help him or her apply for benefits. Social Security disability benefits are available if your loved one is unable to work for pay for at least 12 consecutive months due to disability or injury.
Benefits will ensure that your loved one can continue to financially support himself or herself.
Don’t Try to Do it All
Caring for your loved one is the first and most important thing on your mind, but you also need to take time to care for yourself. Self-care is crucial. If you aren’t feeling well, you can’t provide the care your loved one needs.
Self-care means keeping up on your doctor’s appointments, exercising regularly, eating properly, resting and taking some time for yourself. It’s okay to have “me” time. Read a book. Enjoy a hot bubble bath. Watch a movie. Do something you love doing.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are many programs in place to help caregivers.
If you feel like you need to take a break, don’t ignore your feelings. Make sure that you have a plan in place for times like this, so you can take the time to recharge while still ensuring that your loved one is cared for.