Caregiving can be a challenging task, even if you are caring for a loved one. If you are new to the caregiver role, you may not feel prepared to take on these responsibilities and manage another person’s wellbeing.
At Sunrise Services, we often talk with family caregivers who are overwhelmed with new caregiving responsibilities and looking for community resources to help. In this article, we will share some general tips you may find helpful. If you have more specific questions, feel free to reach out to us for help!
While Caring for a Loved One, Stay Proactive
Caregiving often requires a proactive approach. In this role, you will need to take charge and plan ahead to make sure things like meals, appointments, and household chores happen when they need to.
Many family caregivers work together with other relatives, friends, volunteers, and paid care workers to create schedules of who is available when and for what tasks. No matter how much you love the person, you will eventually need a break from caregiving, so it’s important to proactively schedule some time when other people can help.
Know When to Step In
It can be hard to say when you need to step in and take on a more proactive role in your loved one’s life. However, it’s generally a good idea to stay involved and up to date about your parent’s daily routine as they age so you can notice concerning changes in their behaviors and habits.
Most adult children and loved ones decide to step in when the person’s pattern changes in a way that could harm their quality of life. For example, if your elderly parents keep skipping doctors’ appointments, missing planning outings with friends, or leaving household maintenance tasks they used to stay on top of undone, they may need someone to step in.
Most people who receive care want to maintain some sense of control over their lives. While you may be tempted to just do everything yourself for the person, they may feel better about their situation if you allow them to continue making some decisions themselves and ask if you can help before stepping in with specific tasks.
Accept the Person’s Limitations
The person you are caring for may no longer be able to take part in all of the activities they (and you!) once enjoyed. It’s not helpful to pine for activities and abilities that no longer exist. Instead, it helps to accept the person’s limitations and meet them where they now are.
Keep in mind that the person’s abilities and limitations, and therefore your caregiving tasks, may change as the person’s health changes. You may need to reevaluate down the road.
Stay Positive When Caring for a Loved One
Having a positive attitude is important in many aspects of life, but there are few situations where it is more important than caregiving. Your attitude will set the tone for your caregiving and affect the person you are caring for.
If you are having trouble maintaining a positive attitude, you may find that it helps to talk with other people about the things on your mind. Many caregivers cope with the difficult aspects of their situation by talking with friends, counselors, mental health professionals, or religious or spiritual advisors.
Consider New living Arrangements for Your Loved One
Depending on the level of care your loved one needs, you may need to help them move to a new location. If you are the primary caregiver, you may need to either move into their home or have them move into yours. If they need care well beyond what you can provide, it may be time to consider independent living, assisted living, or nursing communities.
Look Out for Home Safety Hazards
As people age, previously unproblematic aspects of their homes could become safety hazards. As a new family caregiver, you may want to look into:
- Putting grab bars in bathrooms or along stairs for extra support.
- Clearing cords, rugs, and other obstacles out of walkways.
- Moving commonly used things around to reduce the need for stepstools or bending.
- Adding brighter lights to rooms with accessible switches.
Know Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses
No one is a perfect caregiver in every way. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and knowing what yours are can help you determine when you need to ask for help.
You may need to set limits about the kind or level of care you can provide to give the person you are caring for the best possible experience. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help.
Look for Financial Assistance
There are many financial services out there that can help your loved one handle monetary concerns and get the care they need, regardless of their financial situation.
Taxpayers pay into a variety of benefits programs that help seniors and people with disabilities receive healthcare coverage, disability coverage, and more. For more local seniors programs and services, check the Area Agency on Aging website. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, we encourage you to reach out to Sunrise Services to learn more about some of the programs that could help your loved one.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help When Caring for a Loved One
You don’t need to take on all, or even most, of the caregiving tasks yourself, especially if your loved one’s needs have grown beyond your capabilities. There are plenty of community resources and services out there that can help you and your loved one through this journey.
Professional home care services exist to help families that cannot provide all the care their loved one needs. You can hire a professional caregiver for as much time as you need.
In many areas, you can find home-delivered meal services or housekeeping services that will help your loved one get the food they need and keep their home clean.
Some public entities and community agencies have volunteers or workers who can help with transportation, advocate for health insurance, or help you get other benefits that could provide relief. At Sunrise Services, we can help connect you with plenty of community and government resources throughout Western Washington that can help meet your loved one’s needs. We also provide home care services to help family caregivers who are burnt out or have their hands full.
Reach out to us today if you need help caring for your loved one in Western Washington. We’re here to provide compassionate care, connect community members to the resources they need, and help each individual live the fullest possible life.