No matter how you become a caregiver, those first few steps in your new role in your loved one’s life are going to be awkward and possibly frightening. The more that you can learn and the more tools you add to your toolkit, the better you’ll be at caregiving.
Understand Your Loved One’s Health
The very first situation you need to get a handle on is your loved one’s health. You’ll need to work closely with her medical team to determine what her current health conditions are, how to manage them, and what her prognosis looks like. Your loved one’s health is going to be ever-changing and it’s something you’ll never stop learning about.
Talk to Other Family Members
Family can be a complicated situation and if your other family members feel left out, that can breed resentment. Talk to your other family members often about what’s going on with your loved one’s health. Ask them to help out as they’re able. Your other family members can be a source of strength during this difficult time for your loved one.
Find Resources for Your Loved One
When you first start out as a family caregiver, it might feel as if you’re totally on your own. There are a lot of community resources out there, but you often have to dig to find them. Look for programs through your county and city agencies and, if you’re still stuck, talk to your loved one’s doctor about where to start looking for resource that can help.
Find Resources for Yourself
You’ll also need to locate resources for yourself. There are a lot of senior agencies which also offer help to caregivers. There are also support groups devoted solely to family caregivers and their unique needs. Take advantage of these resources for yourself. Caregiving is a rewarding task, but it can be exhausting and isolating if you don’t have the tools that you need to keep yourself going. Having the help that you need when you need it can make all the difference in the world.
As you gain more experience with caregiving, many of these activities become second nature. Be good to yourself and take time away when you need it.