Becoming a Family Caregiver? Here’s What You Should Know
Taking on the role of family caregiver often requires a significant lifestyle change. Here are four important tips to keep in mind as you prepare to take on the responsibility to care for your loved one.
1. Communication is Important
Seniors aren’t always ready to admit they need care, but you need to encourage them to see the benefits of daily care if they are exhibiting signs of needing help. Break the ice by asking about ways you can help your loved one around the house. This will give you an idea of how to create a care plan in line with their wishes.
As you begin to plan for long-term care, keep your loved one in the loop. Don’t assume you know best and forge ahead without his or her input. Aging seniors often wish to retain as much independence as possible, and being part of the planning process allows your loved one to ask questions and voice concerns.
2. Financial Planning Eases the Burden
Budgeting for caregiving ahead of time prevents financial tensions down the road. Make a list of all associated costs, including home modifications, mobility aids, health care, and professional assistance.
Find out if your loved one’s health insurance offers coverage for caregiving or equipment, and whether your income and his or her savings will be enough to cover the rest. Consult with a financial planner if you need help creating a budget.
3. “Help” Isn’t a Bad Four-Letter Word
It’s difficult to tackle the task of caregiving alone. Start putting together a support system before you step into the role so that you always have people to whom you can reach out. Ask other family members to help with some basics, such as grocery shopping or meal preparation.
Meet with your loved one’s doctors and specialists to make sure communication remains open and care is cohesive; ask them for as much advice as they are willing to share.
Finally, give yourself the opportunity to take care of your own needs by bringing in a part-time professional in-home caregiver.
4. You Need to Take Care of You
Relaxing and recharging is a critical part of being a caregiver. Plan to take some time away from your duties to visit with friends, attend caregiver support groups, participate in your favorite hobbies, or simply rest. When you feel refreshed, you can give your loved one your best without falling victim to caregiver stress.
Hiring an in-home caregiver can help provide respite for you, and a new friend for your loved one to interact with on a regular basis.
No one could honestly tell you caregiving is an easy job, but preparing in advance makes your role less overwhelming. Take things slowly, be kind to yourself and be ready to face each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.