Disabilities aren’t always life-long. A person can become disabled over the course of their lifetime, whether it is due to an accident, a degenerative condition, or a variety of other causes. When you step in as a family caregiver, you have to adapt your own life and home to help support your disabled loved one. Doing so can be difficult and confusing at first, so let’s look at five different ways you can support your disabled loved one in your home environment.
1. Adapt Your Home’s Physical Environment
One of the biggest steps you will have to take is to adapt your home to fit your loved one’s physical needs. There are many minor adjustments that you can make yourself (such as simply rearranging furniture for better access), but, depending on the type of physical disability your loved one has, you might need to consider calling in home adaptation specialists to assess, plan, and do the work to make your home more accessible for your loved one.
2. Accept Your Emotions and Consider Theirs
The other major challenge you will be faced with right away is the emotional aspect of becoming a family caregiver. Not only are you going to have to be understanding of the emotions that your loved one is going through, but you will need to confront some of your own emotions. Know that you might experience feelings of grief, guilt, anger, resentment, worry, or anxiety over becoming a family caregiver for a disabled loved one. If the emotions become too difficult to manage on your own, do not be ashamed to reach out to licensed professionals or other community resources for help.
3. Connect With Community Resources
Community resources can be helpful in the adaptation process. Check out local Meals on Wheels or other meal programs, caregiver organizations and support groups, community transportation services, and senior centers for recreational and social activities if your loved one is a senior.
4. Take Time Out for Yourself
Caregiver burnout is real and happens to many family caregivers. Let’s face it, if you aren’t able to take care of yourself, it will be even harder to take care of your loved one. Allow yourself time away to decompress. Recruit other family members to step in and assist so that you can take a break. You might feel ashamed or guilty, but this is much more common than you might think. The best way to support your loved one is by also supporting yourself.
5. Hire Professionals
Sometimes, you will need to be called away or might not have another family member who can help when you need a break or if you don’t have time to always be there for your loved one. In these cases, you can contact an organization like NCFL in NJ and look into their Achievement Center Day Program to provide support while you’re away.
Supporting your disabled loved one in your home will not likely be easy, as both of you will need time to adjust. The changes won’t all happen overnight, but you can prepare yourself by taking a few of the steps listed above and adapting those to your unique situation.