March is Disabilities Awareness Month. If you are a family member who cares for someone with a disability, whether a child or an adult, handling personal, caregiving, and everyday needs is hard work.
Home care services are not limited to seniors – adults with chronic needs or disabilities can benefit from a professional caregiver to help them live independently and help you keep stress at bay.
Our FirstLight caregivers support families with family members who are autistic and those with Down’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. Working closely with these local families, they have found the following caring tips to be extremely helpful for you and your disabled loved one.
Educate Yourself. Gather as much information about the family member’s condition. Meet with their health advisors and specialists to understand their situation today and what to expect in the future. Becoming more informed will help you make more knowledgeable health decisions and improve your understanding of any challenges your family might face.
Grow Your Support Group. Family members and friends can provide support in a variety of ways and oftentimes want to help, but not sure how to ask. Determine what you need and give specific instruction on how they can assist you and your family.
- You and the disabled loved one should join a local or online support group based on their needs and interests. A support group can give you the chance to share information and connect with people who are going through similar experiences. A support group may help you overcome the isolation and fear you may experience as a caregiver.
- Search for local and national groups that provide services, recreation, and information for people with disabilities.
- Ask for help and support from friends, family, health care providers, and counselors to join your family care team.
Be an Advocate. The family member with a disability will need advocates to ensure that they receive the best service, support, education, and care he or she needs.
- Familiarize yourself, and other family members, with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and other state and national provisions. Knowing how and when to apply them to your specific situation could be the best thing you do.
- Keep other caregivers and health providers of any special conditions or circumstances that could negatively impact them.
- Keep documents of his or her medical history current.
- Be an advocate for yourself and let your employer know your situation. Be open and discuss what you need to be able to support your loved one.
Remember Self Care. Caregiving is hard work. Caring for a family member with a disability can be very rewarding, but also extremely challenging. It is important that you stay healthy for yourself and for those in your care.
- Set time for yourself to read a book, go for a walk, or take a nap.
- Ask for help or hire an in-home caregiver, like FirstLight Home Care to help you with companion or personal care services on a daily or weekly need. We provide meal preparation, transportation, housekeeping, and assistance with hygiene, other personal care, and more.
- Make “respite care” part of your vocabulary. Schedule breaks or vacations so that you can get refreshed and be an even better caregiver.
- Keep on top of your physical and mental health.
- Exercise and eat right.
- Spend time with your family and friends.
Families with a loved one living with a disability in their care play an important role in their life. The care you provide allows them to maintain a sense of independence and remain in their home. Adding services that a non-medical home care provider brings to your family can support the quality of life of the disabled and help you to allow them to grow and experience life to their fullest.
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