Becoming A Caregiver—Ready or Not!

Yesterday you were a spouse or daughter. Today, you still are, but you’re also a family caregiver with a huge, additional role. How do you manage it all? Aside from logistics, there are your emotions. And, how do you know where the best resources and solutions  are—or even what they are? 

Short of duplicating yourself, you need quality information – fast. With your needs in mind, the Family Caregiver Council, a preeminent group of national experts on family caregiving, has created a website – familycaregivercouncil.com – full of information, insight and resources.

Here are just a few areas The Family Caregiver Council website covers:

Hiring Help  – When and How?

Now that we’ve established that you can’t do it alone, how do you find the right person? This can be especially challenging because the kind of help your family member needs today could be different in six months or a year. And change yet again. Whether you want to do it on your own or hire an agency, you need to have a plan and know the right questions  to ask (their experience, expectations, time off, salary, ways of communicating with family members) to ensure the right fit. More than anything, you need to know how to have that delicate hiring help talk with your parents. 

Getting around: Goodbye, Car 

If driving isn’t safe for Mom or Dad anymore, what are their options? They must have them! How do they get to the doctors or out to lunch with friends? Losing the ability to drive can greatly impact their independence and social life. Transportation alternatives abound, but you need to know where to look, whether it’s the Eldercare Locator, your local area agency on aging, the new National Aging and Disability Transportation Center or ridesharing via companies like Lyft and Uber. Many communities also offer transportation services for seniors.

Connecting Through Technology

With technology, life can be easier for both you, the family caregiver (think peace of mind without being intrusive and efficiency), and your family member (their independence). It can determine whether they can stay home or have to move. Easy-to-use apps, gadgets, websites, sensors, smart homes, videochats, and GPS and voice activation can help coordinate care, monitor their safety and health,  keep Dad in touch with friends and family, and expand his world on the Internet (tune into a TED talk, listen to the news, watch an opera, meet others in forums). A snazzy piece of “jewelry” can actually be a medic alert-like gadget that can summon help.

Caring for YOU

Remember to breathe (and while you’re at it, consider meditation!) There are so many stresses mixed in with the positives in caregiving: less personal time, conflicts between work and caregiving, sibling issues over decision-making, helping, long-distance vs. living nearby, finances, old family dynamics, must-have documents, your emotions—a big one!–and special issues relating to dementia and cognitive impairment, are just some. 
 
Having support in a range of areas from renowned experts who truly understand what you are going through—and know what will help you at every caregiving stage—gives you more options, saves you time, and makes this trying phase of life the best it can be for all of you. Never forget: caregiving is about you, too, not just the family member who needs help.
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