It’s hard to imagine anything that is both as difficult and as rewarding as providing care for a loved one. Whether the need for care came about suddenly as the result of an accident or illness, or happened more gradually because of declining health, a first time caregiver can easily be overwhelmed by the enormous task they are facing.
If you’ve recently begun caring for a loved one, or if you are anticipating the need to offer care in the future, you may find yourself wondering where to begin. Of course, it’s impossible to boil down everything involved in caregiving into a simple list, but the following tips can help as you prepare to take on your new role.
5 Tips for First Time Caregivers
1. Get Support
Caregiving is a weighty responsibility, and if you try to do it all yourself you will likely end up overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s not a sign of weakness or unwillingness if you ask for help. As a matter of fact, when a team of people share the load, the caregivers involved are less likely to become stressed out, which leads to better care for your loved one in the long run.
Create a network of family and friends that you can count on to assist with caregiving responsibilities. People don’t have to have large amounts of time available to be of help. Delegating even small tasks can make a big difference. Even those who live some distance away may be able to lighten your load by helping out with meal planning or bill paying.
In addition to friends and family, make sure to check with your local social services or agency on aging to find out what programs may be available to assist your loved one.
2. Educate Yourself
Learn everything you can about your loved one’s condition. This will help you to meet their present needs and also to anticipate and prepare for the future. Take the time early on to familiarize yourself with care options such as assisted living or in home care. This can help you to avoid scrambling should you find that your loved one eventually needs a higher level of care.
You will also want to be informed as to the medications and other treatments that your loved one needs. If you are expected to perform any procedures at home (such as giving injections, taking blood pressure, or changing bandages), ask your loved one’s doctor to direct you to someone who can give you the training you need.
3. Be Organized
As a first time caregiver, you will likely find yourself needing to keep track of an overwhelming amount of information. There will be medical appointments to remember, medications to keep track of, and phone numbers to keep on hand. Finding a system to organize all of this information is vital.
Rather than relying on lists, some caregivers use programs and apps, such as Microsoft HealthVault to give them easy access to health information. Other apps may help with scheduling, meal planning, and many other aspects of caregiving.
4. Help Your Loved One to Adjust
It’s never easy to deal with a loss of independence, and many seniors find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that they need help with tasks that they used to accomplish on their own. With that in mind, it’s important to allow your loved one to maintain as much independence as is safely possible. To the extent that you can, involve him or her in conversations and decisions about health, finances, and living situations.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Many caregivers feel guilty when they take time out for themselves. However, taking care of your needs should never be low on your list of priorities. You need adequate sleep, good nutrition, and time to enjoy hobbies and friends. All of this will help to keep your stress levels in check and your energy up, which translates into better care for your loved one.
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, then call the Davis Community today at 910-686-7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington NC with a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Get to know the difference today — schedule a visit to the Davis Community!