Growing older presents a myriad of obstacles that can eventually become impossible to overcome alone. When mental and/or physical health is depleted to a level that is too much for an aging loved one to handle, the presence of a trusted caregiver becomes crucial. If you’re in the process of taking on this new role as a caregiver in a loved one’s life, you’re more than likely facing some new obstacles as well. Although it can be difficult to determine where and how to begin the caregiving process, organizing your efforts and taking a moment to identify the challenges ahead will facilitate the process. We’ve done our research and provided the following tips from leading healthcare experts. Review the steps, then take action to help yourself and your loved one cope with this period of change.
- Evaluate the Situation and its Severity
As humans, we’re all different. This means that no aging process will be the same. Each individual will face a unique set of challenges as they approach old age. Take a moment to evaluate the conditions and potential solutions at hand. What health problems is your loved one experiencing? What are their symptoms and potential after effects? How can you take a proactive role in their care?
- Make a Plan
Organization is key to accomplishing any goal. If your goal is to be the best caregiver possible, it’s imperative that you set a solid plan for success. Start by asking your loved one if they have any preferences regarding which family members provide care or which healthcare service providers you select throughout the process. Keep track of these requests as you set a plan for daily care. Which medications will need to be provided? What activities will they need help with? How much supervision will they require? Where do they need to be and who will get them there?
- Get Friends and Family Involved
Although it’s worth taking time out of your regular schedule to assist your loved one, it’s not realistic to dedicate every moment of every day to providing care. This is why it’s important to enlist a little help. Reach out to family members and trusted family friends who share your interest in providing your loved one with the optimal level of care. Should their care require more time than is possible for you and your loved ones to provide, seek additional help from healthcare professionals and an effective home monitoring system.
- Make Timing a Priority
Loss of independence will make your loved one a bit sensitive during this time. Understand that there is a time and a place for addressing pressing issues. Consult with your loved one at a time and place where they are most comfortable. Whether you’re discussing their medication plan or helping them understand where and how your assistance will be provided, selecting the right time and place will play an important role in accomplishing the goals of your discussion.
- Consider Your Options
As you grow and learn throughout the caregiving process, it’s important that you remain aware of the state of your loved one’s health. What conditions are present? Should additional healthcare options be considered to maintain the highest level of care? Be flexible in your care and listen carefully to the recommendations made by your loved one’s physicians.
- Be Persistent
Helping your loved one cope with the loss of their independence while tending to their daily needs can be a constant battle. Although the process will be hard, it’s important that you remain positive and understanding. Do your best to see things from your loved one’s point of view. When things get frustrating, complete the task at hand then take a moment to step outside for a quick breather. This won’t be easy, but it is possible.
- Take Care of Yourself too
It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the process and lose sight of what really matters. Taking care of your loved one can be simpler than you make it. There’s no need to send yourself into an anxious fit over their care. Rather, be there for them when needed, but also take care of yourself and maintain the daily activities that make your life enjoyable. Allow them to make their own decisions, and provide your help when necessary. An awesome resource for help with this step is, “How to Take Care for Your Aging Loved Ones While Still Taking Care of Yourself,” an expert article by The Atlantic.
Hopefully this list has helped you find a solid starting point for your caregiving process. Still seeking more information? Check out info from the sources that helped us complete this post: The Mayo Clinic and AgingCare.com.