6 Rules For New Caregivers
Making the transition from family member or loved one, to a full or part-time caregiver can be a difficult transition. Navigating the relationship with your senior, as well as ensuring their health and safety on a daily basis can often become overwhelming. Luckily, there are a few rules for new caregivers that are important to follow.
According to a study conducted by AARP, About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months, and almost 16 million care for a senior with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. While many family caregivers assume that they’re alone in this journey, that’s simply not the case. These statistics show that many adults are dealing with the same issues, and there are many resources available to help ease the transition from loved one, to caregiver. Here are a few simple rules to follow to ensure that you’re providing the best possible care.
6 Rules For Caregivers
1. Build a Support Network
One of the most important rules for new caregivers is to build a support system that will ease the burden and ensure that you have a solid team that is willing to support both you and your loved one. Siblings, relatives, and family friends are just a few people that might be willing to help you out. Not all of these folks will volunteer to help, but many will get involved if you ask. Some, in fact, may feel hurt or left out if you don't seek their assistance. Whether it’s driving your loved one to a doctor’s appointment, or making meals that can easily be reheated, it’s important to reach out to others. It takes a team to make caregiving work, so make sure you’re choosing the right teammates.
2. Hold Family Meetings
A great way to keep your team together and on the same page is to hold monthly family meetings. This way, if any problems or issues arise, they can be confronted immediately. Communication is key, and one of the most important rules for new caregivers is to make sure that your support system is on the same page. It’s also a good idea to ask your senior if there are any issues they are having. Make sure that they continue to have input in their living condition to they keep their dignity and health intact.
3. Don’t Baby Them
Caregivers often take over when they shouldn’t. If your loved one is still capable of performing certain activities, such as paying bills or cooking meals, then encourage him or her to do so. Helping your loved one maintain a feeling of independence will make him or her feel better about being in a care-receiving situation. While it’s important to help your senior as much as you can, it’s just as important to ensure that they do not feel useless when it comes to their own health and wellbeing. Make them feel independent by continuing to do as much daily activities as they can. You’ll want to help them with tasks they can’t complete on their own, but you’ll also want to let them know that you care for them.
4. Become an Advocate
Becoming a caregiver to your senior is a big responsibility. Not only are you responsible for their health, you’re responsible for helping them make the decisions that are in their best interest. Chances are that none of the health professionals providing care for your loved one will know every aspect of his or her condition at the start. You may need to help with the exchange of information among physicians. Prepare your loved one’s Personal Health History and take it with you as you accompany the care recipient to appointments. Make sure your loved one’s doctor is aware of what’s on it. You should become a mouthpiece for your loved one if they’re unable to communicate for themselves. It’s one of the most important rules for new caregivers.
5. Monitor Medications
As a caregiver for your senior, you’ll be responsible for taking care of your loved one’s medications. Medical issues from accidental overdose of medication mix-ups are relatively common, so it’s important to keep an eye on your loved one’s medications. Create a daily regiment using a phone app or a traditional calendar to ensure that your loved one is taking his or her medication at the correct times.
6. Monitor Your Own Health
Out of all the rules for new caregivers, this one is often overlooked. It can be easy to become so wrapped up with helping others that we often fail to monitor our own physical and mental health. Caregiver burnout is a serious issue; so it’s important take a break every now and then. The reason you built a support system is so you don’t have to carry the burden all yourself. If you find your self feeling overwhelmed, make sure to reach out for help and take a break when you need it.