Color & Control:

5 ways to become a self-confident caregiver

Second-guessing your abilities?

By Carol Nelson

Between bouts of COVID-19 in the community that require additional diligence, interacting with doctors and the regular trials of caring for a senior who is aging in place, the role of a caregiver can often feel like an insurmountable challenge.

Sometimes as caregivers we can feel ineffectual, over-challenged and meek, which can deliver a massive blow to our self-confidence. Other family members may also start second-guessing decisions which leaves you feeling that you aren’t performing well in your caregiving role.

You are not alone in feeling tentative but you can pull yourself out of these moments of self-doubt by turning on your internal fortitude and arming yourself with tenacity and the knowledge you need to face what comes your way.

1. Put your trust in your knowledge of your loved one
Whether you’re new to the role or have been at it for some time, the fact is that you probably know your loved one better than nearly anyone else. The fact that if you’ve been caring and living with them for some time now gives you the insight that people who aren’t there day-in and day-out don’t have.

You know your loved one’s moods and needs and routines much better than their doctor or any other outside professional. While you should listen to their advice on your loved one’s health, you don’t have to defer to them.

Speak up if you don’t agree with an assessment and explain your position. A good doctor will listen to your questions and explain his or her position or will correct his or her assumptions to fit reality.

2. Be your loved one’s advocate
In addition to being the person closest to your loved one, you are also the person who has to implement any care prescribed.

If you do not feel that your loved one will be successful in a new endeavour or if you believe that a change in routine will not result in a good outcome, don’t be afraid to speak up. Keep an open mind, but if the challenge is egregious or simply unrealistic, voice your concerns and ask for modifications or changes.

3. Come armed with knowledge
Between the shopping and the cleaning and the actual acts of caregiving, it can be difficult to find the time to learn about new medicines or methods of care.

Most of us have access to the internet in our homes and have a neighbourhood library where we can check out books that can help us understand our loved one’s medical issues and how best to deal with them.

Be wary of websites or blogs that are not sanctioned by some reputable medical facility when doing your research.

That is not to say that you cannot read message boards from other caregivers who are experiencing similar issues that you face. Sometimes taking advice from other caregivers’ experiences can be a matter of trial and error, but their knowledge may help you pinpoint where you should look for good, well-researched advice. It is also important, if you can, to include your care recipient in discussions about choices and changes.

4. Question negative thoughts
We all have them. They sneak into our daily lives whether it’s at work or at school or caring for a loved one. It’s a normal part of being human.

However, don’t let these negative thoughts rule your better nature. Sometimes when you write out your doubts, you can see that they are just the minor misgivings we all face. Trust in yourself and your increasing knowledge of your loved one’s needs and that you have their best interest at heart.

5. Visualize a positive outcome
This is not some new age hocus pocus but is a valid form of retrieving self-confidence. If you have researched your misgivings, talked with other caregivers about similar situations and know that you are trying to do what is best for the senior you care for, you should be able to envision that your decision will be the best one for all involved.

The power of positive thinking has been touted by medical professionals, the clergy and self-help leaders for decades and can serve as a means to help you find your self-confidence when you have hit a rough patch.

Carol Nelson​, RN, BSN, MBA, is Healthcare Solutions​ Manager with more than 35 years of experience ​in homecare services, hospice​ and palliative care, and ​assisted ​ living​ management.

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