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Providing care for a family member in need is a centuries old act of kindness, love and loyalty. Most of the population will participate in the caregiving process, as the caregiver, the recipient of care, or possibly both. The demand for caregiving services has increased dramatically and will continue to rise as our population lives longer with increased life expectancies and medical advances.


As the caregiving population has grown over the years, the definition of "caregiver" has taken on many meanings. The San Francisco based Family Caregiver Alliance describes caregivers as, "family, friends and neighbors who stand by those they love as they face chronic illness, disability, or death. Caregivers are a diverse group of people of all ages and from all walks of life - some new to caregiving, some just anticipating becoming caregivers, and others for whom providing care has become a way of life."


Taking care of yourself while caregiving
When you are a caregiver, finding time for positive, nurturing interactions with others might seem impossible. But you owe it to yourself to find time for you. Without it, you may not have the mental strength to deal with all of the emotions you experience as a caregiver, including guilt and anger. Give yourself permission not to be're doing the best you can.

  • Incorporate activities that give you pleasure even when you don't really feel like it. Listen to music, work in the garden, engage in a hobby.whatever it is that you enjoy.
  • Pamper yourself. Take a warm bath and light candles. Find some time for a manicure or a massage.
  • Eat balanced meals to nurture your body. Find time to exercise even if it's a short walk everyday. Do the best you can to sleep at least 7 hours a night.
  • "Laughter is the best medicine".buy a light-hearted book or rent a comedy video. Whenever you can, try to find some humor in everyday situations.
  • Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings. This helps provide perspective on your situation and serves as an important release for your emotions.
  • Arrange a telephone contact with a family member, a friend, or a volunteer from a church or senior center so that someone calls each day to be sure everything is all right. This person could relieve you of responsibility by contacting other family members to let them know the status of the care receiver or if you need anything.
  • Try to set a time for afternoons or evenings out. Seek out friends and family to help you so that you can have some time away from the home. And, if it is difficult to leave, invite friends and family over to visit with you. Share some tea, or coffee. It is important that you interact with others.
    Join a support group. Seek out people who are going through the same experiences that you are living each day. If you can't leave the house, many Internet services are available
  • Draw strength from your faith, or any faith-based caregiving support services. A congregation in a church or synagogue can provide the encouragement you need to feel good about your caregiving role, and may also be able to provide a break from time to time.

Finding community support

  • Many organizations assist caregivers through support groups, home visitors, respite care, transportation, and other services. Call your local Area Agency on Aging, senior center, senior services organization, county information and referral service, university gerontology department, family service or hospital social work unit for contact suggestions.
  • If your care recipient is a Veteran, and depending on their status, income and other criteria, some VA programs might be free while others will require co-payments. Home health care coverage, financial support, nursing home care, and adult day care benefits might be available.
  • Fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Eagles or Moose lodges might offer some assistance if your care recipient is a longtime dues-paying member. This might take the form of phone check-ins, home visits or transportation.
  • Many community transportation services are free for your care recipient, while others may have a nominal fee or ask for a donation. Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) can help you locate transportation to and from adult day care, senior centers, shopping malls and specific doctor's appointments.
  • Telephone reassurance provides prescheduled calls to homebound older adults to reduce their isolation and monitor their well-being. Check with your local AAA, religious groups, senior centers and other public or non-profit organizations.
  • If your loved one is well enough, consider the possibility of adult day care. An adult day care center can provide you with needed breaks during the day or week and your loved one with some valuable diversions and activities. 

Helpful tips to make caregiving easier

  • For an older person who cannot get in and out of the tub alone and who does not feel safe in the shower, install grab bars next to toilets, bathtubs and showers. This is very important to prevent falls.
  • Also, get a stool for the tub or shower or, at least, put a sturdy lawn chair right in the tub on a no-slip rubber mat. Help the person step carefully into the tub, sit on the chair, shower, then stand up and step out. A hand-held shower attachment is also very helpful.
  • Use a draw sheet (half sheet) to help move the person in bed.
  • Replace buttons, zippers, and snaps with a Velcro fastener (available at local yardage or craft stores). All types of clothing, including shoes, are now being made with Velcro® fasteners.
  • Finger towels a size larger than a washcloth make better washcloths for bedridden persons.
  • Add foam padding to increase the size of the handle of such articles as a toothbrush, razor, comb and utensils. Foam curlers work well.
  • Obtain an identification bracelet for the older adult you care for, containing name, address and telephone number. If the person wanders or gets lost, an ID bracelet will ensure that they can be identified. If there is a special medical problem, get a Medic Alert Emblem (necklace or bracelet) engraved with the recipient's condition.
  • Make a list of contents in the cupboards or drawers used by the care receiver. Write large and tape the lists to the drawers.
  • Try a Chinese soup spoon to avoid spilling food if the care receiver's hand shakes.
  • Older people can learn new skills if they see the value of what they are expected to learn. Take time to explain how, what and why.
  • Make audiotapes of your loved one's favorite music. Listening to music can lift the spirits and take the mind off pain.

Medication and health care tips

  • Talk to a pharmacist about the best way to organize medications and be sure that you purchase something that is marked for the purpose of managing medications.
  • Find ways to make your care recipient laugh. Laughter has many proven health benefits. It helps relax muscles and relieves pain, and boosts the immune system
  • Keep oranges and orange juice in the house. Recent research has confirmed the importance of vitamin C and other antioxidants in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis as well as slowing progression of the disease.
  • Nonfat dry milk is a good protein supplement in soups, milk shakes and casserole dishes or mixed in water for reconstituted milk.
  • Make sure your care recipient wears sunscreen as well as a hat and protective clothing when going out whether the sun is shining or not. Some medications increase the likelihood of skin damage from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
  • Ask your care recipient's physician or physical therapist to recommend a stretching routine.
  • Stretching promotes flexibility in joints and muscles which helps preserve range of motion.
  • If possible, suggest a swimming class for your care recipient. Exercising in water effectively works the joints with minimal impact.



Heritage Enterprises Inc.
115 W. Jefferson St., Suite 401
P.O. Box 3188
Bloomington IL 61702-3188
PH: (309) 828-4361
FAX: (309) 829-5477

Heritage Operations Group is proud to provide the senior population in Illinois with rehabilitative therapy services, skilled nursing care, specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and supportive living, independent living and pharmacy services.


Heritage Operations Group, is a separate and distinct legal entity from any and all other entities named or listed on this website.  Any information contained in this website does not constitute evidence of a relationship between Heritage Operations Group, or any other named or listed entity.

Heritage Operations Group •  115 W. Jefferson St. Suite 401  •  P.O. Box 3188   Bloomington, IL   61702-3188
PH. 800-397-1313  •  FAX: 309-829-5477

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