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Four Questions to Help Define your Role as a Family Caregiver

Everyone wants to give their loved one the best care possible. But what does that mean in practice, and how do you make it happen given all you other responsibilities? If you find yourself in the role of a family caregiver, there are many factors to consider to find the best way forward. Think about what’s best for you and your family, and know that every family will have its own way of caring.

1) What Does Your Loved One Want?

Be sure to make this decision together with your loved one. What they say might surprise you. They may prefer to stay in their house and have you be their primary caregiver, but they might also prefer to live in a senior living facility to be around people their age. Maybe they’d prefer part- or full-time in-home care. Regardless, it is essential that you understand their point of view before assuming the caregiver role.

2) How Will You Create the Time Needed to Care For Your Loved One?

Making time to care for a loved one can be demanding, and the time squeeze is a big source of stress for family caregivers. It’s important to plan for the extra time commitment as best as you can. If you work a full-time job, you might be able to arrange a more flexible work schedule so that you can drop in regularly and be available for medical appointments. If this is not an option, you might consider paid support services or tools that help you save time. But remember that 65 million Americans have found a way to succeed as family caregivers, so there’s a good chance you can find a way too.

3) Are You Ready Emotionally to Be a Caregiver?

In addition to the time commitment, being a caregiver can be emotionally challenging. If often means a reversal of parent-child roles, and may require you to take the lead in making both day-to-day decisions and more important ones as care needs evolve. Be ready for some added stress, but also know that there are lots of tools and techniques to help you become an effective caregiver while keeping good life balance.

4) Do You Have the Right Tools to Meet Their Needs?

Medication management is a common responsibility among family caregivers, and a significant source of stress. There are many tools and resources to make medication management easier for both caregivers and their loved ones. Automated medication dispensers with reminders and connected mobile apps are an excellent option.

You will need to find out if your loved one’s needs require training or medical equipment. An example of this is a loved one needing help with insulin injections. Does your loved one need help getting dressed in the morning or with their bathing routine? If so, consider if that’s something you can do alone, or something you need assistance with. You can hire part-time assistance for your loved one and still be their primary caregiver.

It’s Up to You to Decide

As you become your loved one’s caregiver, make sure to find balance. Make time for yourself to relax and make sure your needs are met. When you make appointments for your loved one, schedule them for yourself as well. If you need support, know there are many great choices such as in-home care, day programs or senior living facilities. There is no one-size solution, and no one knows better than you what the best solution is for you and your loved.

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