If you have a loved one with memory decline or difficulty completing daily tasks, you may be wondering how to provide support. Perhaps you’re looking into home care options or a senior living community. Or you might be thinking about becoming their primary caregiver. Many caregivers take on this role because they want to give back, feel a sense of duty, or enjoy caregiving.
How can you decide if becoming a family caregiver is the right solution for you and your family?
Here are three important questions to consider:
1. Can your loved one stay in their home with your support?
2. Can you care for your loved one without denying attention to others in your family or yourself?
3. Are you capable of providing the care your loved one needs?
How to prepare to be a new caregiver?
If you adopt the caregiver role, you’ll be taking on a wide range of new responsibilities. As you begin your caregiver journey, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Check for safety. Assess to identify risks within the home and modify the environment to create a safe and accessible space for your loved one.
- Create a plan. Connect with your local fire department and police station about File of Life, a document with special instructions and vital information that will help during a medical emergency.
- Don’t go at it alone. Delegate tasks to family, friends, and neighbors willing to help lighten the workload with specific tasks (get groceries, drive to appointments, do laundry, etc.).
- Utilize your community. Identify your local Area Agency on Aging for resources such as Meals on Wheels.
- Bring in professional help. Look into local Home Care Agencies to assist with care. Consider other care settings. Locate some Adult Day Centers where your loved one can socialize and be safe.
- Learn about respite. Nearby respite options can be a good solution if you need short-term care. Your doctor and the local Area Agency on Aging can assist with this.
- Check in with yourself often. Identify when you are feeling frustrated, angry, tired, or stressed. Then create strategies to help with those feelings–count to 10, listen to music, breathe, call a friend, etc.
- Know when to ask for help and reach out. Have a backup plan for additional support if you need a break or for unexpected emergencies.
- Practice good self-care. Create a time out for yourself to recharge with something you enjoy.
- Join a support group online or in person. You are not alone. Many caregivers have the same feelings, and talking through them can be very supportive.
The information and services on this site do not constitute medical nor health care advice for any individual problem nor a substitute for medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified health care provider familiar with your unique facts.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment.