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Help for First Time Caregivers

February 17, 2017

Prepare to Care in Five Steps

 

Caring for a family member or close friend is one of the most important—and complicated—roles you’ll play. It can happen suddenly, with an accident or illness, or it may start with driving your loved one to get groceries or going to the doctor. Later, you may find yourself taking more time off from work, preparing meals or handling their finances.

 

Whether you’re just beginning to anticipate a need or taking care of a family member full-time, this guide serves as a practical tool to make the process easier for both you and your loved one. It includes advice, resources and checklists to Start the Conversation.  The right time to talk about the future is now—even if it’s uncomfortable. Ask your loved one about their wishes, values and preferences on things that matter, from health to finances. If you wait until a fall, accident or serious diagnosis, your choices may be more limited and more difficult to evaluate when everyone’s stress levels are sky-high.elp you get organized and find support on your caregiving journey. Remember: Just take it one step at a time.

 

 

1.   Start the Conversation

 

The right time to talk about the future is now—even if it’s uncomfortable. Ask your loved one about their wishes, values and preferences on things that matter, from health to finances. If you wait until a fall, accident or serious diagnosis, your choices may be more limited and more difficult to evaluate when everyone’s stress levels are sky-high.Form a Team Don’t go it alone. Trying to handle the responsibilities of caregiving yourself can lead to burnout and stress-related health problems. It’s important to reach out to form a larger network of friends, family and community resources that can help you. Remember to consider your loved one part of the team. Form a Team Don’t go it alone. Trying to handle the responsibilities of caregiving yourself can lead to burnout and stress-related health problems. It’s important to reach out to form a larger network of friends, family and community resources that can help you. Remember to consider your loved one part of the team.

 

 

2. Form a Team

 

Don’t go it alone. Trying to handle the responsibilities of caregiving yourself can lead to burnout and stress-related health problems. It’s important to reach out to form a larger network of friends, family and community resources that can help you. Remember to consider your loved one part of the team.

 

3.  Make a Plan

 

Now it’s time to work with your team to develop a plan, thinking both short term—such as determining who will be responsible for each caregiving task—and long term. You can’t anticipate every detail or scenario, but being forward-thinking now will help you respond more quickly and effectively in an emergency. It also helps assure that everyone keeps the focus on what’s best for your loved one.

 

4.  Care for Your Loved One

 

This step encompasses the others, of course, and every caregiver’s situation is different. But there are a wide range resources and tools that can make your job easier, whether you’re caring for a parent from another state, a spouse with a long-term illness or a family member with dementia. In any caregiving situation, it’s important to know where to get information and assistance.

 

 

5.  Care for Yourself

 

As a family caregiver, it’s easy to forget about your own needs—which is why caregivers are more likely to report high stress levels and suffer from depression, and other health problems. Don’t neglect exercise, sleep and healthy eating, and take time for activities you enjoy. You’ll need to keep up your energy and stay well to care for others.

 

 

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