Caregiver Stories

5 Strengths I Have Gained as a Caregiver

Post on 19/06/16

hand-782688_640.jpgFor most Caregivers, life is never the same after a loved one’s stroke. But as C. H. Cheong discovered, the experience can also be a crucible of strength.

Behind every successfully rehabilitated stroke survivor is usually a dedicated and devoted caregiver. Learning to be a caregiver myself, I have discovered some important traits that every caregiver should aspire to attain. It will not only equip them to lead their loved ones along the road to recovery, it will also make that passage a more fulfilling one.

1. Patience

A routine task that looks effortless on your part may be deemed almost impossible for a stroke patient. In some cases, recovery occurs only after several months. Patients having difficulty moving their limbs or doing things on their own may give up too easily without making strenuous efforts. Rather than becoming overly ambitious and expecting them to do more than menial tasks, be realistic and consider letting them attempt smaller, simpler steps first. This will certainly take more time, but keep showering them with words of encouragement during the process and tell them how proud you are of their little accomplishments. Be patient. You can help them regain their self-esteem and confidence this way.

2. Adaptability

Be it a reconfiguration of the home or as one caregiver puts it, “making personal sacrifices”, having a stroke patient at home will require certain adjustments to be made. Some patients require almost round-the-clock attention. In such cases, their caregivers often have to make extensive changes to their regular schedules. Adopting a flexible attitude and exploring creative alternatives to do things help to minimise disruptions. Re-arranging timetables, re-managing activities and re-looking at present arrangements will help ensure that the welfare of both the patient and caregiver are not compromised.

3. Perseverance
Patients with difficulties coordinating their hand movements may spill their food and drinks. They might mess up the table or dirty themselves, and you would have to do the cleaning up. Others are grouchy and unreasonable because they are frustrated. Fuses get shorter – and so do tempers – for both the patient and caregiver. Such a scenario calls for a need for a spirit of perseverance. It means having a strong desire to want to overcome these odds and holding on to the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This trait helps caregivers re-energise and better prepare to face uncertainties ahead.

4. Determination

Many patients turn their caregivers into their pillars of strength. It often goes beyond just the physical dimension. As a caregiver, you will need to be strong both emotionally and spiritually. Because recovery can be slow or seemingly futile at times, some patients may just give up trying. This causes them to sink into bouts of depression. Caregivers therefore play the crucial role as morale boosters. Let the patient know that you understand how he feels and acknowledge that while things are not rosy, life must go on. Encourage him that brighter days are ahead.

5. Cheerfulness

A cheerful smile can do wonders in brightening up a patient’s day. Making a conscious effort to adopt a positive and optimistic outlook will keep your own spirits up, and make the journey of caregiving a more pleasant one. You will be amazed how you can alter a patient’s mood (and overall well-being) as you try to create the happiest recovery environment possible. After all, is not laughter the best medicine?

It is never easy taking on a new and responsible role as a caregiver. This is especially so when one is still coming to terms with a loved one’s condition, and learning to accept that things may never be the same again.

The good news is that you need not have to go through this new phase of your life as a caregiver alone. At the Singapore National Stroke Association, there is a ready source of social support made up of former stroke patients and caregivers. Given its past experience in dealing with the real issues faced by stroke survivors and their families, the people at SNSA are able to share with you practical caregiving tips and help you cope better with the challenges you face. You can find out more about SNSA by clicking here.

The journey as a caregiver need not be a lonely one. We are all part of a community that understands the challenges facing stroke survivors and caregivers, and we are here for you!

By C. H. Cheong, Caregiver and Befriender.

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