Caregiving is a huge commitment. It requires a lot of patience and dedication. It is a tough job but is also rewarding and satisfying. It is comparatively easier to care for a family member with disabilities because you have the motivation and willpower for it.
However, no matter if you’re an outsider or a family member, you need to dedicate a huge amount of time to caregiving. Here are a few tips to make your job of caregiving a disabled person less difficult for you.
1) Research the Condition
The first and foremost precondition to take care of a disabled person is to understand the disability and the state and stage they are going through. You must research and learn as much as possible about the condition and discuss it with physicians for a better idea. This will help you have more knowledge on how the person needs to be treated and taken care of.
2) Find Support
You can introduce the person to various local or online support groups based on their condition, such as groups and services that provide mobility aids recommendations to people having movement or mobility disabilities, hearing exercises to people with hearing disabilities, and so on.
3) Be an Advocate
When you’re a caregiver, you have to be the full support for the disabled person and their family. This also includes advocating for them. You should help fight for all the rights the person and the family deserve to get from the government and the community.
The Disabilities Act or Family Medical Leave Act are two such instances. Make sure to have proper knowledge about these and to enlighten them as well. Moreover, if the reason behind the disability is an accident, know how to protect the legal rights they get for being severely injured from the accident.
4) Be Empowering
One of the most important factors for being a caregiver for disabled people is not to be ashamed of them, of being around them, of being their family member or introducing them to people or acquaintances. You must be empowering for them. You should introduce them to others with confidence because that will boost up their confidence.
Moreover, help and teach them to be confident. If the person you’re caregiving has a hearing disability, for example, help them live confidently with the hearing loss. This will motivate them to accept who they are without being ashamed or hesitant about it.
5) Learn and Observe Communication Codes
Many people with intellectual disabilities make a definite response to certain situations, such as raising their head when they agree to something and bowing their head down to disagree with something. You need to observe and study these behaviors to discover the indications.
6) Be Patient and Give it Time
As said before, caregiving requires a lot of patience. If you’re new to this, it takes time to adjust with the person with a disability and properly comprehend your responsibilities towards them. Speak to them directly, take time and be patient for it to get easier.
7) Consider them to be Just like Anyone Else
It is very important to make the person feel that they are a normal human being like any of us to maintain stable mental health. You should try to treat them the way you would treat any other adult. You should help them bloom their creativity and capability. Always react and interact with them normally without making them realize they’re disabled.
8) Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions
Don’t treat them only based on your idea and research. Ask them about their emotions and difficulties. Don’t think they might get offended.
Just make sure you’re polite and respectful every time you ask them about their condition. This will not only help you understand them better but will also help you create a good bond and relatability with them.
9) Always Be Respectful
You should always be respectful with your words and gestures towards the person with disabilities. Even if the person doesn’t behave like an adult (Asperger syndrome), you should be respectful to their opinion and choices. Don’t make choices on behalf of the person and don’t direct them on what to do and what not all the time.
10) Explore Legal Matters as a Caregiver
You should ensure that you have proper knowledge about the local laws on caregiving before becoming a caregiver for someone. If you’re a hired caregiver, know whether you need any particular license for it.
Again, if you’re a family member of the person, you might need to address legal issues, such as guardianship, to take the responsibility of the fully grown adult with special needs. Make sure you clear all this legal paperwork beforehand to avoid facing issues later.
11) Have a Substitute
It is absolutely fine to take a break for some time from caregiving. It can be for a personal necessity or any other job. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that the disabled person doesn’t get abandoned for the care they require.
Explain the condition and your duties towards the disabled person to them ahead of time. If possible, make them practice the job to have prior experience while you’re present before taking the break.
Collaborative Care For Adults With Disabilities
Adults with disabilities need the full support of their families and the community to help them have an enjoyable and comfortable life.
Family caregivers can hire professionals such as accredited exercise physiologists to work with them, helping people with disabilities achieve improved function, optimal independence, health, fitness and well-being. Physiologists provide high-quality support in different areas of life, including physical exercise, physiotherapy and dietetics, to improve their clients’ quality of life. Learn more here about physiology exercises.
If you’re a professional caregiver, it’s important to teach the patient and the family essential medical care tips, such as wound care and enteral or tube feeding. In that way, they can perform the task correctly even without your supervision.
In addition, caregivers can educate families about the available assistive or mobility options and the latest technologies to help people with disabilities. Examples include low-vision devices, hearing aids, smart sensors, walking frames, prostheses, wheelchairs and augmentative communication systems.
Caregivers must also know the available community services that people with disabilities can use to avoid paying much for private services. For instance, many communities offer some form of healthcare, financial and social assistance to households with family members who have disabilities.