Lists, Tips, and Advice for New Family Caregivers

12/14/2016 10:19 am ET
Seniorcare.com

When confronting the challenges of giving care, either for yourself or another individual, knowing where to start and understanding what you’ll face is difficult to act on unless you learn a few strategies. For example, if you have chronic illness or caring for someone with a disease, the types of care given will differ.  

Attention to self matters. The world of care is made up of several fragments. There are the ones for medical advice, health care options, insurance, services and providers, financial topics, pre-post surgery, and volunteer services. You’re also looking to address meals, medication administration, exercise and fitness, and not to mention a variety of therapies. 

However, the bulk of dealing with the information and learning how best to plan the options is best when given a map that clearly helps one to navigate. 

Since I have experience in helping my family members, I feel somewhat capable of helping you find your way as well. Plus in my case, I have connected with several aging experts throughout the industry and rely on their experience and advice. I’ll share the Seniorcare.com Aging Council’s useful suggestions. 

What 5 things should new family caregivers know? List at least five skills that will help first-time caregivers give appropriate care for the ones they love.
  • Identify as a caregiver and find resources in your area for caregivers
  • Don't wait until you are exhausted to ask for help--learn to accept offers of help now
  • Learn as much as you can about the illness and care needs
  • You are in for the long haul--this is a marathon not a sprint
  • Taking regular breaks from caregiving will prevent burn out.
  • Your personal life goes by the wayside
  • Guilt becomes a constant companion
  • You will struggle with time management
  • You will make important decisions with limited information
  • Who pay for what, and how?

Skills:

  • Ask and accept help
  • Think critically, not emotionally
  • Surround yourself with seasoned caregivers
  • Eat right - resist emotional eating
  • Be proactive rather than reactive

List by Joy Loverde

  • They need to take care of their own health.
  • They need to take time for themselves.
  • They need to learn patience.
  • They need to balance work, life and caregiving equally.
  • They need to laugh!
  • You are not alone - there are >40M family caregivers in the US for seniors alone.
  • This is a marathon - planning & prep will be your friend
  • Leverage tech solutions when possible - LifeAssist has both Reminder Rosie & Circura to help caregivers manage daily care
  • Reach out to other family/friends to help manage care & stress
  • Take care of yourself - your health & wellness is a priority

“Compiling a check list for new family caregivers is extensive. The one thing people should know is that elder care is more than just health care issues. What happens to your love one after the hospital? There are so many different services to consider. Services I always recommend are the legal and financial planning aspect. My motto is always to plan for the worse but always hope for the best.”

Advice by Admond Fong

  • You are is important as any people whom you are trying to care for.
  • Caregiving is a group event.
  • Self-care is essential.
  • At times you will be unable to meet the needs of others. Give yourself credit for the time
  • Value the effort, skill and good intention that you put into caregiving, whatever the outcome.

List by Margo Rose

“Call your state department on aging about programs available to caregivers such as adult day care and home care possibly at reduced or no cost based on income. Practice self-care as it is critical. Take advantage of free respite services offered in your community such as friendly visiting and errand running. Lastly, be honest when it is no longer possible to care someone at home.”

“Caregiving requires 1) knowledge of the disease so learn all you can to prepare for today and tomorrow too 2) help from others so form a strong network of helpers 3) patience and perseverance so realize problems are not personal but rather obstacles to overcome 4) self-care so you can be there when needed and 5) understanding that you aren’t alone and help is there when needed so just ask!”

“People are not always prepared when they enter the role of family caregiver. New family caregivers should be sure to ask for help, make time for themselves, look at the technology that is designed specifically for seniors and caregivers, openly communicate with family members, and be prepared for financial planning. To help build these skills, caregivers can visit Familycaregivercouncil.com. “

Advice by David Inns

1. Observe and do whats best for your loved one.

2. Have Patience and be empathetic.

3. Be a good listener. You never know what you can learn about them.

4. Build a strong a relationship with your loved one by establishing good communication with them.

5. Be creative and enthusiastic. Developing a fun and trustworthy relationship can make a world of difference in their life.

“Be a good listener and hear what your loved one is saying as well as what they don't say. Be patient and encourage independence. Ask "permission" before you do anything. Do not talk "down" to your loved one, always remain respectful. Be patient...yes, I said that twice!”

To ensure your caregiving experience is a rewarding one,

1. Learn all you can about the illness at hand and what lies ahead,

2. Avail yourself of support & advocacy groups that teach good caregiving and coping skills,

3. Don't be a martyr: accept help and emotional support from your social circle, and

4. Tend to your own needs (exercise, meditate, and take regular breaks).

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