What to Do If You’re New to Caregiving
As a new caregiver, you’re going to face plenty of challenges. Not only will there be challenges in caring for your aging parent but also in navigating and understanding the types of resources available to you and, of course, avoiding caregiver burnout. So when you’re new to caregiving, how do you make it easier? Here are a few tips to help you navigate your way through the new responsibilities involved in caring for your aging parent.
Get to know the diagnosis
First thing’s first – know what you’re working with. Learning about your family member’s diagnosis will help you to understand the unique challenges that you and your loved one are facing and develop a realistic caregiving plan. If your family member is dealing with Alzheimer’s they’re going to need different a different level of care than standard old age. Get to know the reason behind their need for care and it’ll help you to manage the process better.
Talk about financial and healthcare issues early
There’s almost no way around this – at some point questions about how you need to handle your loved one’s finances or healthcare issues are going to come up and they’re never easy. The longer that you wait to have those conversations, the harder they’re going to be to have and the more friction and frustration that they’ll cause. Get them out of the way early so when you have to make these decisions you’ll go into them knowing the answers. A specific financial plan, healthcare plan, even an end of life plan will be incredible helpful as you become accustomed to this new role.
Take advantage of community resources
When you first take on the role of caregiver, it’s likely that you may start to feel overwhelmed with all of the work that you have to take on. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of the different resources that are available to you in your community. We’ve developed a Community Resources List that you can download for the San Diego community. If you’re not in San Diego, find a similar resource guide to point you in the direction of the organizations in your area. When you find these resources, take advantage of them. They’ll make your life, your loved one’s life and the life of those around you much easier and more manageable.
Find a support system
Caregiver burnout is a very real, very serious issue for caregivers and, without support, it’s an easy trap to fall into. As new caregivers take on new responsibilities, it’s important not to become isolated and let your social or private time completely fall away. Make sure to keep your friends and family close and find online or in-person groups that you can share your specific experiences with.