New caregivers need help as they navigate their role. The following tips are broken up in to the areas of education, physical support and emotional support:
Education for the New Caregiver
There may not be time initially to learn all you need as a new caregiver, especially if you begin to take care of an elderly relative in an emergency situation. In this case, get as much information as possible from a home care agency or discharge planner from the facility your loved one is leaving.
If time allows or as time goes on, research organizations that provide the most updated material for caregivers such as the AARP.
Physical Support for the New Caregiver
Caring for someone on a 24 hour basis or even a short time can take a physical toll on you. The first thing is to learn to ask for help. You do not have to take on this responsibility alone. If money allows for it, hire a service to come in so you can take a break. If not, the Medicaid Waiver program provides free respite care. Contact your community’s Senior Program for other options. Ask friends to help.
Keep open the option of long term care. If your loved one’s care requires around the clock medical care, or the safety of your loved one at home is in jeopardy, a nursing home or assisted living facility may be the answer. Speak to your loved one’s doctor, other family members or your support group for advice.
Emotional Support for the New Caregiver
It can be stressful to be a new caregiver. You may fear the unknown, feel like it is overwhelming, or feel resentment or guilt. None of these feelings are wrong. There is no need to hide them as it will only make it worse. Try to communicate your feelings to someone you trust, at a support group or with a professional.
Becoming a new caregiver presents a big change in your life. It isn’t always easy or pleasant, but help is available. Be sure that you keep in mind these tips to learn about your new role and to be sure that your physical and emotional needs are met.
I am part of AARP’s kitchen cabinet on caregiving. All opinions are my own. This is a series of posts on the topic of caregiving. This post and my social media involvement is compensated.