When confronting the challenges of giving care, either for yourself or another individual, knowing where to start and understanding what you’ll face is difficult to act on unless you learn a few strategies.
People are not always prepared when they enter the role of a caregiver. New family caregivers should be sure to ask for help, make time for themselves, look at the technology designed specifically for seniors and caregivers, openly communicate with family members, and be prepared for financial planning.
The world of care is made up of several components. There are the ones for medical advice, health care options, insurance, services and providers, financial topics, pre-post surgery, and volunteer services. You’re also looking to address meals, medication administration, exercise and fitness, and not to mention a variety of therapies.
However, the bulk of dealing with the information and learning how best to plan the options is best when given a map that clearly helps one to navigate.
10 things caregivers need to know
-Find resources in your area
-Ask for help—learn to accept offers of help now
-Learn as much as you can about the illness and care needs
-You are in for the long haul—be patient
-Take regular breaks from caregiving to prevent burn out
-Think critically, not emotionally
-Surround yourself with seasoned caregivers
-Be proactive rather than reactive
-Take care of your own health
-Balance work, life and caregiving equally
Compiling a checklist can be extensive. The one thing to know is that elder care is more than just health care issues. What happens to your love one after the hospital? There are so many different services to consider. Services I always recommend have the legal and financial planning aspect. My motto is always to plan for the worse but always hope for the best.
Other things to do: Call your state department on aging about programs available to caregivers such as adult day care and home care possibly at reduced or no cost based on income. Practice self-care as it is critical. Take advantage of free respite services offered in your community such as friendly visiting and errand running. Lastly, be honest when it is no longer possible to care someone at home.
Always remember to be a good listener and hear what your loved one is saying as well as what they don’t say. Be patient and encourage independence. Ask “permission” before you do anything. Do not talk “down” to your loved one, and always remain respectful.
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Carol Marak, aging advocate, Seniorcare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.