Tips for New Family Caregivers

Many people may find themselves suddenly thrust into the world of caregiving. If someone in your family suddenly has an illness or a surgery that takes them off of their feet, it may become your responsibility to take care of them. Caregiving may also be thrust upon you overtime. Many people become gradual caregivers as their elderly loved ones become older and less able to take care of themselves. If either of these situations sounds familiar, then here are a few tips for you to help your first few months of caregiving go a lot smoother.

Begin the caregiving conversation early

Ideally, if your parents or loved ones are growing older then you should talk with them about their care early on. It is recommended that adult children begin talking to their parents about caregiving when their parents reach the age of 70, even if they are still healthy. However, a person’s health is not always guaranteed. Your elderly loved ones may grow ill one day and never bounce back fully, or they may become injured and need a caregiver right then. If this happens and you have not spoken to your loved ones about their plans, then you may become an instant caregiver. But, if you talk to your loved ones early on, then you may be able to implement a plan that they set in place years previously. Speaking with your loved ones early on, allows you to have a plan set in place if they become ill or injured suddenly, or if they gradually become more reliant on others.

Learn about home and community care supports in your area

If you become the caregiver for your elderly loved one, make an effort to learn more about home and community care supports in your area. When you become a caregiver, you probably will have a million questions. To find the answers, you can search for support systems in your area. By connecting with support groups or other individual caregivers you can learn about the field of caregiving and express any concerns you may have about your new job. Going to support groups may also provide you with resources you may need to do your job better. Community resources may also be of help to you to learn how to complete your job and give you the resources you need to learn key skills such as first aid, wound care, or how to give medications.

Find help with your new job by creating a team of caregivers

Being a caregiver is extremely stressful, and you should not have to do it alone. Build relationships with all of the health care professionals who are involved in your loved one’s care and create a care plan for your loved one. You can reach out to your friends and neighbors for help. Most people in your life will probably want to help, but will not exactly know how. If you ask someone for help, then be specific about your needs and show them your appreciation after they help you. Asking others for help is not a sign of weakness; it can actually be a sign of strength and help both you and your loved one.

Get organized early on

Getting organized early can help make your job easier. Ask other caregivers in your area how they keep all of their necessary papers and their loved one’s papers organized to get ideas. Most people keep large binders or folders full of phone numbers, calendars, medical information, test results and medication lists. If you keep a binder, then it will be easy to take with you during medical appointments for your loved one. But, its best to find an organizational system that works for you so that you will keep it updated.

Understand your loved one’s health condition

The more you know about your loved one’s health, the better you will be able to care for them. Do your own research about their health condition and their medications. Plus, you can also talk with their doctors to get the information you need. Before each doctor’s appointment, prepare a list of questions and always ask for hard copies of test results so that you can always understand the full extent of your loved one’s health issues.

Take care of yourself

To be a successful caregiver, you must take care of yourself as well as your loved one. Every few days, take a small amount of time for yourself to recharge and de-stress. By taking care of yourself, you will have more patience with your loved one and you will be more comfortable with your new responsibilities. It is easy to get sucked into your new role as a caregiver, but in order to be the best caregiver you can be, you must take care of yourself. Make time to care for all of your own needs, because that will ensure that you are healthy and happy. Plus, by taking care of yourself physically, you can ensure that you will be available to care for your loved one as they grow older.

Being a caregiver can be stressful yet rewarding. Whether you have been thrown into the world of caregiving suddenly, or it was a gradual career change, being a new caregiver can be difficult. With these tips, your first year of being a caregiver can go a lot smoother and a lot easier. Follow these tips and your new job will become easier for you and your loved one. After a few months, you can then decide whether you are going to continue to be your loved one’s caregiver or if you wish to hire someone who is a professional. Either option allows your loved one to get the care that they need, while still being able to stay in their own home. If you do choose to go with a professional caregiving agency, then ask your loved one’s doctor for a recommendation for a caregiving agency that could provide your loved one with the care they deserve.

Here are additional articles in out home care blog on becoming a caregiver: