How To Be A First-Time Caregiver

Original Publishing Date: December 6, 2019
Publisher: AARP

This article helps those who are navigating the uncertain waters of being a caregiver for the first time. It starts off with the smallest things and before they know it they are making decisions on behalf of their loved one. It can seem stressful for most but this article helps ease a caregiver into the role of caregiving through it’s five golden rules.

“Caregiving can happen suddenly with an accident or disease diagnosis, or start gradually with driving your loved one to get groceries or see a doctor. Later, you may find yourself preparing meals, handling their finances or taking time off work to address their growing needs.”

The first task is to initiate a conversation with the loved one about the future. It is imperative to do it in the present moment rather than wait until it is too late. The caregiver must find the opportune time to broach the topic especially when an event relevant to the topic at hand occurs.

An army of family members and close friends will always be ready to help so the caregiver should not carry this burden alone but instead allocate tasks. However, conflicts do arise between families as well so appointing an external mediator is a good idea.

Once the support network is in place, the caregiver must ensure smooth delegation of duties so that each task is managed efficiently. They must distribute the tasks in a manner that each person is assigned a specific task which they can complete. Maintaining a handwritten record of the planning which can then be shared with the concerned people ensures that everyone is kept in the loop. Communication is key, so creating a group where everyone is updated regarding the latest developments eases the process.

The caregiver should be in constant touch with the doctors in charge of treating the loved one. The caregiver must inform them that they are the primary caregiver and all medical procedures will require their consent. Also, do not hesitate to reach out to them for guidance with regard to treating the loved one at home. The house needs to be modified in a way that makes it easy for the loved one to move around.

“Family caregivers find it easy to forget about their own needs, which is why caregivers often experience high stress levels, depression, and other health problems.”

Finally, caregivers must take some time out for themselves. This time can be spent doing an activity which they enjoy such as yoga or dancing. Caregivers tend to neglect their own exercise, diet, and sleep in the process of taking care of the loved one. This can result in caregiver burnout. Caregivers should understand that they can only take care of someone else provided they take care of themselves first.

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