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Caregiving Tips & Support

As a family caregiver, you may find yourself facing a host of new responsibilities, many of which are unfamiliar or intimidating. At times, you may feel overwhelmed and alone. But despite its challenges, caregiving can also be rewarding. And there are a lot of things you can do to make the caregiving process easier for both you and your loved one. These tips can help you get the support you need while caring for someone you love.

New To Family Caregiving?
Places To Turn For Caregiver Supoort
Take Advantage of Community Support
Providing Long Distance Care

Random Tips & Insights from Caregivers
When To Stop Driving

Dealing With Family Conflict
Tips on Sundowning
Helping Children Understand
Stuffed Pet & Toy Therapy
Fixations
Tips For Medical Appointments
Dealing With Resistance
Tips For Day To Day
Intimacy And Sexuality
Visiting A Person With Dementia
Music And Dementia
Tips For Holidays And Gatherings
Art as Home Therapy

Providing care for a family member in need is an age-old act of kindness, love, and loyalty. If you're like most family caregivers, you aren't trained for the responsibilities you now face. And you probably never anticipated you'd be in this situation. You may not even live very close to your loved one. At the same time, you love your family member and want to provide the best care you can. The good news is that you don't have to be a nursing expert, a superhero, or a saint in order to be a good caregiver. With the right help and support, you can be a good caregiver without having to sacrifice yourself in the process.

Even if you’re the primary family caregiver, you can’t do everything on your own,

Especially if you’re caregiving from a distance (more than an hour’s drive from your family member). You’ll need help from friends, siblings, and other family members, as well as health professionals. If you don’t get the support you need, you'll quickly burn out—which will compromise your ability to provide care.

But before you can ask for help, you need to have a clear understanding of your family member’s needs. Take some time to list all the caregiving tasks required, being as specific as possible. Then determine which activities you are able to meet (be realistic about your capabilities and time). The remaining tasks on the list are ones you'll need to ask others to help you with.

Providing Long Distance Care

Many people take on the role of designated caregiver for a family member—often an older relative or sibling—while living more than an hour’s travel away. Trying to manage a loved one’s care from a distance can add to feelings of guilt and anxiety and present many other obstacles. But there are steps you can take to prepare for caregiving emergencies and ease the burden of responsibility.

  • Set up an alarm system for your loved one. Because of the distance between you, you won’t be able to respond in time to a life-threatening emergency, so subscribe to an electronic alert system. Your loved one wears the small device and can use it to summon immediate help.
  • Manage doctor and medical appointments. Try to schedule all medical appointments together, at a time when you’ll be in the area. Make the time to get to know your loved one’s doctors and arrange to be kept up-to-date on all medical issues via the phone when you’re not in the area. Your relative may need to sign a privacy release to enable their doctors to do this.
  • Investigate local services. When you’re not there, try to find local services that can offer home help services, deliver meals, or provide local transportation for your loved one. A geriatric care manager can offer a variety of services to long-distance caregivers, including providing and monitoring in-home help for your relative.
  • Schedule regular communication with your loved one. A daily email, text message, or quick phone call can let your relative know that they’re not forgotten and give you peace of mind.

 

 

 

New to Family Caregiving?

  • Learn as much as you can about your family member’s illness and about how to be a caregiver. The more you know, the less anxiety you’ll feel about your new role and the more effective you’ll be.

  • Seek out other caregivers. It helps to know you’re not alone. It’s comforting to give and receive support from others who understand what you’re going through. This is why I have developed this site (I really do hope you find this site a helpful resources and that you do know you are not alone)

  • Trust your instincts. Remember, you know your family member best. Don’t ignore what doctors and specialists tell you, but listen to your gut, too.

  • Encourage your loved one’s independence. Caregiving does not mean doing everything for your loved one. Be open to technologies and strategies that allow your family member to be as independent as possible.

  • Know your limits. Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give. Set clear limits, and communicate those limits to doctors, family members, and other people involved.

Places To Turn For Caregiver Support

Pablo Casals, the world-renowned cellist, said, “The capacity to care is the thing that gives life its deepest significance and meaning.” It's essential that you receive the support you need, so you don't lose that capacity. While you're caring for your loved one, don't forget about your own needs. Caregivers need care too.

    • The Internet ... NATURALLY I would suggest this as the first option
    • Family members or friends who will listen without judgment
    • Your church, temple, or other place of worship
    • Caregiver support groups at a local hospital or online
    • A therapist, social worker, or counselor
    • National caregiver organizations
    • Organizations specific to your family member’s illness or disability

Take Advantage of Community Services

There are services to help caregivers in most communities, and the cost is often based on ability to pay or covered by the care receiver's insurance. Services that may be available in your community include adult day care centers, home health aides, home-delivered meals, respite care, transportation services, and skilled nursing.

  • Caregiver services in your community – Call your local senior center, senior services organization, county information and referral service, university gerontology department, family service, or hospital social work unit for contact suggestions. In the U.S. call your local Area Agency on Aging.
  • Caregiver support for veterans – If your care recipient is a Veteran in the U.S., home health care coverage, financial support, nursing home care, and adult day care benefits may be available. Some Veterans Administration programs are free, while others require co-payments, depending upon the veteran’s status, income, and other criteria.
  • Your family member’s affiliations – Fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Eagles, or Moose lodges may offer some assistance if your family member is a longtime dues-paying member. This help may take the form of phone check-ins, home visits, or transportation.
  • Community transportation services – Many community transportation services are free for your care recipient, while others may have a nominal fee or ask for a donation. In the U.S., your local Area Agency on Aging can help you locate transportation to and from adult day care, senior centers, shopping malls, and doctor's appointments.
  • Telephone check-ins – Telephone reassurance provides prescheduled calls to homebound older adults to reduce their isolation and monitor their well-being. Check with local religious groups, senior centers, and other public or nonprofit organizations.
  • Adult day care – If your loved one is well enough, consider the possibility of adult day care. An adult day care center can provide you with needed breaks during the day or week, and your loved one with some valuable diversions and activities.