Finding yourself as a caregiver for the first time can be scary. Sometimes it is a gradual change, other times you are thrust into it with no warning. Whatever the situation may be, know that you are not alone. As you go through this journey you will learn what works for you and the loved one you are caring for. However, you may not know where to begin. Here are some tips and tricks to support you on this journey.
Begin by learning as much as you can about your loved one’s condition. While not everyone progresses at the same pace, knowing what to expect can help you prepare. Together, you two can create a list of questions that you might have for your physician and their team. Also, take the time to hear what your loved one is feeling about their condition. Listen to their concerns and let them tell you what they need. They may not know exactly what they need in the beginning. But, eventually, they will.
Remember, caregiving is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You will find that there are rest stops where you will need some help. It is important to build a network of people that you can depend on. Your network can be made up of family and friends that can pick some of the small pieces up. Another great way to find support is by locating caregiver support groups. There are several on social media and your local Area Agency on Aging can help you find support groups.
There are many home and community supports that you can tap into. The Idaho Caregiver Alliance has a resource library that is full of organizations to help with any needs you may have.
Keeping track of appointments, medications, and therapies can become overwhelming. Identify a system that will help you keep track of everything. Some caregivers create a binder with a list of their loved one’s physicians, medications, questions that they might have for the next appointment, ext. There are also several apps that could help you keep track of everything.
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It can be easy to focus on your loved ones and all their needs and forget to take care of yourself too. There are several self-care apps that you can use to help you along your journey. Here are a few that we have found.