Although caring for an aging spouse, parent, or friend can be one of the most personally gratifying experiences you’ll ever have, it can also be one of the most difficult and frustrating. If you’ve never done it before, serving as a family caregiver requires the ability to anticipate the challenges that lay ahead and plan accordingly. What follows are some important tips to remember when you find yourself as one of the first-time caregivers for an elderly loved one.
Do Your Research
Learn all you can about your loved one’s illness, condition, or disease by speaking with their health care providers. What is their anticipated, specific care needs both in the short- and long-term? Get all the information you can from books, pamphlets, other family caregivers, and the internet. Are there any specific skills you may need to learn, like safely lifting someone with limited mobility?
Explore All Options
Write down all the specific activities of daily living (ADLs) needs that your loved one has, like bathing, transportation, meals, etc. Once you have your list, discuss ways to meet those needs with the care recipient, family members, friends, and healthcare providers. It is also critical to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others based on their time and talents, as a failure to do so could lead to caregiver burnout.
Investigate Community Resources
Most communities offer services that support care recipients and their families. Start by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging. Look into other resources like adult day programs, meal delivery services, paratransit services, and professional home care. You can also contact organizations specific to your loved one’s disease or health condition, for example, the Alzheimer’s Association.
Prioritize Immediate Care Needs
Depending on the immediate needs of your loved one, start recording in a log or journal their eating patterns, medications, and physical signs. While respecting their wishes, modify the home environment to accommodate special needs like a walker, wheelchair, etc. If other informal caregivers are involved, make a caregiving calendar based on each one’s skills and availability. As the primary caregiver, you’ll also need to have an emergency plan in place if something happens to you.
Organize your loved one’s financial information, like bills, loans, bank accounts, and insurance policies. Photocopy important documents like their social security card, driver’s license, and insurance cards. Write down their doctors’ names, addresses, and phone numbers, along with the medical names of illnesses, medical insurance information, prescription numbers, names, and doses.
Educate yourself on the long-term prognosis of your loved one. For example, if your care recipient has a terminal disease, they may need hospice care in the future. Assess their finances and speak to a financial advisor familiar with long-term care issues. Talk to a lawyer about health care proxy, durable power of attorney, and related topics. If you can afford it, work with a geriatric care manager to help organize and facilitate family meetings and define clear expectations.
Take Care of Yourself
Most importantly, maintaining your loved one’s quality of life relies on your ability to stay recharged and refreshed. Be sure to take care of yourself by:
- Openly sharing your experiences and feelings with family and friends
- Checking into your employer’s caregiver assistance program, if applicable
- Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep
- Joining a caregiver support group
- Continuing to do at least one hobby that brings you pleasure
- Taking regular breaks, or “respites,” from caregiving
Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Seniors in Arizona
Although it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, caring for an aging loved one can sometimes be overwhelming. At Adultcare Assistance Homecare, we’d love to have an open dialogue with you about your needs and how we can help your loved one comfortably and affordably age in place. As a locally owned agency with a long track record of success, our highly trained caregivers can step in and provide your family with the care that’s needed.
Our home care services include respite care, companion care, medication reminders, senior transportation, light housekeeping, and even 24-hour, live-in assistance. To learn more about our award-winning services now or to get a FREE Home Care Assessment for a senior in Phoenix, Sun City, or Tucson, AZ, today, please visit Adultcare Assistance Homecare at: www.adultassistance.com.