A Caregiver’s Guide: Learning When to Help
- by Paul L.
- February 18, 2019
Paul L. is a paid Advocate for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Caregiving can be hard work, and one of the most difficult decisions I faced as a new caregiver was figuring out what I needed to do for my wife, who has relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). Knowing when to step in and help has been a challenge in my caregiving journey.
A key to being a caregiver is finding balance. I think the balance comes when you determine what they can still do and what they need help with, and making sure to ask others for help when needed.
My experience has taught me some caregiving principles for when to lend a helping hand.
- I learned early on that you can’t let your loved one’s relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) take center stage. If you are doing so much for them that you stop doing what makes you happy or stop taking care of yourself, you may need some additional help.
- You can’t give up on your own dreams and adventures. I always tell others, “If you love to golf, then play golf; if you love tennis, continue to play; if you like to go on walks, then walk.” You can’t stop being you because you are a caregiver! My passion is cooking. I love to cook, and I still do, every day.
- There is no shame in asking for help. I find that family and friends want to help, but need to be given a specific task to help with. The symptoms of MS can change daily, which means caregiver responsibilities can also change daily. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask for a night off and rely on friends and family to help. If you’d prefer, start simple, like asking someone to make dinner for your family.
- Let your loved one continue to do the things they can. As caregivers, we can’t do everything for them, and we shouldn’t try. I learned about my wife’s RRMS, and now, I watch and see where she might need help each day. If she can still do the task, I let her.
- Keep track of the ways your loved one needs your assistance, and, if the list continues to grow, you might want to seek assistance from his or her healthcare provider.
- Sharing is the final key to success. If your family doesn’t know all the things you do as a caregiver, they may not realize how much you are really doing. Share your loved one’s needs with your family, and they may offer to help.
What tips would you give Care Partners learning to help their loved ones? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on the Lift MS® Facebook page.
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COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.