It is easy to become overwhelmed as a new caregiver. Here are five steps that can help you navigate your new responsibilities:
- Start with a diagnosis. Learning about a family member's diagnosis helps caregivers understand the disease process and plan ahead realistically.
- Talk about finances and healthcare wishes. Having these conversations can be difficult, but completing Durable Powers of Attorney for finances and healthcare can help relieve anxiety and better prepare for the future.
- Consider inviting family and close friends to come together and discuss the care needed. If possible, it's helpful to include the care recipient in this meeting. This meeting gives caregivers a chance to say what they need, plan for care and ask others for assistance.
- Take advantage of community resources such as home delivered meals and adult day services. These resources help relieve the workload and offer a break. Look for caregiver educational programs that will increase knowledge and confidence.
- Find support. The most important thing is for caregivers to not become isolated as they take on more responsibility and as social life moves into the background. Online and in-person groups can be very helpful in connecting with others in the same circumstances. Caregivers can call Family Caregiver Alliance at (800) 445-8106 to learn about local services, or visit www.caregiver.org, and click on "Family Care Navigator."
Used with permission of Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving. For more information, visit www.caregiver.org or call (800) 445-8106.