Suddenly find yourself in the role of caregiver for an aging parent?
Stressed about how to manage your parent’s elder care? No idea how to juggle their needs and everything else you have to do in life?
There are many articles on caregiver stress and many tips for caring for yourself as a caregiver. We often hear from families who seek practical advice and better ways to manage the tasks of caregiving. Each individual and family’s situation is somewhat unique, but there are common lessons we can share that may help you as you manage the eldercare of someone you love.
Start with these four ideas for improving your eldercare experience:
- Two top areas in which to do a little bit of preparation (which we’ll cover a little more in-depth and give you some resources in our next post-stay tuned to the Aging Wisely blog or sign up for updates!): 1. advanced care planning and legal documentation for decision making 2. gaining a basic understanding of health and long-term care coverage and what your loved one has or lacks.
- Tools can help ease your life as a caregiver if they address some of your challenges or help you better organize. Using tools like electronic medical/personal health records or even simple notebooks or journals for key information can make everything from appointments to emergencies easier. Anything that helps you organize, easily access information and perhaps share information with other relatives is worth trying.
- Emotional support is key…but can be hard to find (and who has the time?). A support group can be wonderful, but if you cannot find the time or an appropriate group to attend, consider the support you may be able to find online. It might be as simple as joining a Facebook group for caregivers, visiting some of the many eldercare forums online or something more formal. Your friends can be a great support as well but many caregivers tell us they felt they needed an additional outlet because they felt friends were tiring of hearing about a situation to which they couldn’t really relate.
- The #1 role of any caregiver is advocate. You will have to advocate for your loved one in all types of situations. This role requires you to ask a lot of questions and manage many different areas. Sometimes rather than becoming an expert, it may make sense to hire a professional patient advocate to help you. The role of advocate is the most consistent caregiver role–it will be there whether you are physically providing the care, your loved one has other caregivers, or your loved one resides in an assisted care setting.
We’re glad to help if you need resources in any of the areas we mentioned, from good caregiver tools, our reviews of what to look for in an electronic medical record to finding support online!