With about 20% of adults in America currently providing unpaid health or supportive care to a loved one, there is a good chance you could end up serving as a caregiver at some point in the future. Whether you serve as a caregiver to an aging parent, a spouse, a child, or anyone else, it is important that you know what the job entails and how to do it effectively. Here are some tips and information that can help you provide the best care:
Let Your Loved One Take an Active Role in Their Own Care
Nobody likes having their healthcare decisions made for them. Whenever there is a decision to be made, discuss it with the person receiving care. If you are at a doctor’s office with them, be sure they are included in the conversation. Don’t let the doctor talk to you about them as if they weren’t in the room.
Prioritize Their Comfort
The caregiver relationship can be rewarding for everyone involved, and it shouldn’t feel like a punishment to the person receiving care. Do everything you need to do, but be sure to find time for enjoyable activities as well. Find out their favorite game and play with them. Watch a movie or listen to music together. If they are able, going out with them can provide a sense of normalcy that is so desperately needed in difficult times.
Seek Out the Experts and Listen to Their Advice
Most unpaid caregivers don’t have a background in healthcare, so it’s crucial to seek out the advice of experts. Support groups and caregiving organizations are good sources of information, and discussing your situation with your loved one’s healthcare providers is also a good idea. Above all, trust the information you get from experts and use it effectively to provide the best care.
Talk to Other Caregivers
Chances are you already know someone who is serving as a caregiver or who has in the past. These people know what you are going through, and their advice can be invaluable. If you don’t know anyone who has provided care, seek out help in support groups. There is an entire community of caregivers out there, and they are willing and able to advise you.
Don’t Forget to Consider Your Own Needs
Caregiving is one of the most difficult jobs a person can do, and it’s easy to get burned out. Always remember to take some time for yourself; it will actually help you provide better care. Take short breaks throughout the day, and if you need more time off, consider using adult daycare services or in-home caregivers.
Don’t Feel Guilty
As a caregiver, you are taking on a lot of responsibility. It can be overwhelming, and you won’t always get everything right. When you make mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. Providing care requires patience and compassion, not just for the person receiving care, but for yourself as well. Do the best you can and know that even if you’re not perfect, the work you’re doing means everything to your loved one.
Resources for Caregivers
If you have taken on the responsibility of being a caregiver, know that you are not alone. There are so many resources available to you; the internet is a good place to start. The Caregiver Action Network, AARP Family Caregiving, and the Family Caregiver Alliance are all good examples of organizations that provide support and advice to people in your situation. You can also find local organizations and organizations that deal with your loved one’s specific condition.
The legal community can also be helpful for you. Not only can an elder law attorney help you prepare for the future with guardianship designations, powers of attorney, and more, but they can also provide assistance to those currently acting as caregivers who need help finding and utilizing all possible sources of funds most efficiently, including applying for Medicaid on their loved one’s behalf.
If you need the advice of an elder care lawyer in Delaware County, PA, or anywhere else nearby, get in touch with Slutsky Elder Law today. Call (610) 940-0650 or fill out the form on our contact page to request a consultation.