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How to Ease Into a Family Caregiver Role

Consider Options and Needs

Becoming a family caregiver is a big change for everyone: you as the caregiver, your loved one, and others in the care circle. It’s important to ease into a caregiving role through a series of conversations to develop the best care plan for a loved one. There are a variety of helpful tools, resources and technological advances that can help a caregiver care for a loved one. Resources such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Caring.com and Family Caregiver Alliance are a great place to start researching.

Home Modifications

There are many home modifications that can be easily made. Things like shower chairs, added railings and no-slip mats are easy fixes for an aging loved one. Home maintenance tasks such as shoveling, gardening or watering the yard and other outdoor tasks can be outsourced. There are also devices, such as Pria, an intelligent medication dispenser, that help caregivers stay in touch, while their loved one can maintain their independence.

Remote Monitoring 

If a loved one needs checking in on, there are many technological options for remote monitoring. Watches or necklaces can detect falls or have GPS to let a caregiver know where their loved one is or if they need assistance. There are devices that allow a loved one the ability to press a button to request emergency services.

In-Home Care

There are numerous factors when considering in-home care. What level of medical care is needed, if any? Does the loved one need or want part-time or full-time support? Both caregivers and their loved one should feel comfortable with the in-home care if they choose to go that route.

Nursing Home/Assisted Living

It’s a difficult decision to move a loved one into a nursing home, but it may be the best thing for both parties. When looking for a nursing home, caregivers should make sure to find the right fit. Keep in mind things like level of care or the scale of monitoring a loved one needs.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Change is Hard

Changing a routine can be difficult, especially for someone older and set in their ways. If a loved one is an aging parent, they may be hesitant to give up the “parental” role in the relationship. They may be thinking things such as “this routine has worked in the past, so why change it?” or “I’m the parent, don’t tell me what to do.”

A recent AARP study found that one main concerns for loved ones needing a caregiver is fear of being a burden. They found that “older adults often express concerns about not wanting to burden their adult children and complicate their busy lives.”

They may be hesitant about losing their relationship with their family members. If caregivers are considering a nursing home or assisted living options, their loved one may feel cast aside. Consider creating a visiting schedule to reassure them that family will continuously visit and keep in touch.

Don’t Forget to Take Time for Yourself

Becoming a caregiver for a loved one is not an easy task, especially if unexpected. Be sure to take care of yourself. Here are just a few things you can do to make time for yourself.

  • Treat yourself to a nice dinner
  • Have a night out with friends
  • See a movie
  • Get a massage
  • Take a walk in nature

There’s no manual on how to become a caregiver for a loved one, but there are resources and support systems to help you find your path forward. Take time to understand your options and consider consulting family and friends and potentially a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse before making a final decision. Remember that this transition isn’t easy on your loved one either. Each caregiving situation is unique. Be patient with the process and consider what is best for you and your loved one.

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