Things to Keep in Mind as a New Caregiver
Preparing to take care of a loved one.
Naturally, you want to do your best to take care of your loved one, and this means a lot of preparation and planning. This includes:
- Find out as much as you can about their condition
- Create a plan
- Discuss your workload
- Prepare the home
- Organize contact info and documents
- Seek support
Let's go into further detail below.
Understanding the diagnosis
Make sure you get complete details about your loved one's current condition. If they have symptoms that worry you or you have questions, talk to their healthcare provider. Knowing the details will help you feel more confident in your care and can also benefit the person you're caring for. With an early diagnosis, they may be able to take care of themselves independently for some time.
Is the person you're caring for incontinent? Urinary incontinence is quite common, and many different medical conditions lead to it. Learn more by clicking here. Knowing all about their condition will make it easier for you to take care of them.
Create a plan
Think ahead and plan your care. This kind of forethought will help you manage your time so that you don't get overwhelmed. It will also ensure your loved one gets the care they need – such as medication – on the right schedule.
Create a care plan by writing down how you will provide care and outline the tasks you will do in the next few weeks or months. You can then discuss your plan with the person you're caring for and the people who might be able to support you.
Know that not everything is going to go as planned on a day-to-day basis. Having something structured is great to avoid major mixups, but life happens.
Discuss your workload
Hiding your problems won't help. Instead of letting problems snowball into something bigger, talk about your loved one's situation with your family and close friends. Let them know about all the work your caregiving will entail - someone might be able to provide help or support.
Most people know very little about what it's like to be a caregiver. Your family and friends are likely to be interested in your experience and may be able to offer support or practical suggestions.
There is nothing wrong with saying what you need and asking for support. When someone offers you help, don't hesitate to accept it.
Prepare your home
The person you care for may be wobbly on their feet or not independently mobile. Either way, you must ensure that their/your home is safe to move around. Arranging your caregiving environment to be as efficient as possible will also aid in making your life a little bit easier.
Get tips for preparing your home in Home Safety.
Getting organized will help you feel confident and ready. Keep important contact information and documents in one place where you can find them quickly. For example, you may want to create a list of doctors, lawyers, local pharmacists, friends and family members. Other things to document (and keep in a secure location) could be account names/numbers and passwords, especially if the person you're caring for has a poor memory.
You are human, not a robot. Even if you have a lot of energy, there's only so much you can do on your own before you burn yourself out.
To continue providing the best care, it's important to find others who can help relieve you and prevent you from becoming exhausted. This can be simply doing the grocery shopping, cleaning around the house or with transportation to the doctor or an appointment.
Of course, sharing care work with family and friends is great. But if you can, seek professional support. For example, consider the following:
- A nurse to help you at home
- A company that delivers food to your home
- Medication delivered from your pharmacy to your home
- Ask your pharmacy to put medications in blister packs (typically, the service is free!)
- A live-in companion to help with tasks around the house
- Check government programs for support (e.g., financial, medical supplies, etc.)
Stay in touch with caregiving communities or support groups. These organizations or groups can provide support, valuable suggestions, and just an ear to listen.