The following information for caregivers has been prepared by the Caregiver Assistance Network.
Planning for New Caregivers
- Learn as much as you can about your loved one's illness.
- Put your care recipient's papers in order.
- Financial. Find out where your care recipient keeps financial information, including investments, bank accounts and tax returns. Find out names of lawyers, bankers and accounts. Also, locate life insurance policies, birth certificates, and funeral arrangement papers.
- Medical. Find the names and phone numbers of all physicians as well as information about all prescribed medications. Also, find Social Security and Medicare cards. Complete living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care.
- Get support early on.
- Be knowledgeable about available resources in your community.
- Allow yourself to experience the many emotions of caregiving (i.e., anger, sadness, loss).
- Find respite.
- Make time for yourself and do activities you enjoy.
- Access legal needs (i.e. wills, advance directives, power of attorney).
- Create a profile of family member's income and expenses.
Ways to Get Help from Other Family Members
- Ask. Be assertive.
- Hold a family meeting to express your concerns.
- Suggest specific things others can do to help.
- Don't make family members feel guilty.
- Be appreciative — say thank you.
Many people find themselves in this situation. They want to help mom, grandpa, an aunt or other aging family member, but they live so far away. There are still many things a long-distance caregiver can do to help someone they care about. They can also be a great help to other caregivers – such as a sibling – who might live closer to their loved one. The National Institute on Aging has written a guide for long-distance caregivers, including 20 questions every long-distance caregiver should ask themselves. Click here to download a free copy of the guide.
- Educate yourself about the care receiver's illness/condition.
- Plan ahead: plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
- Remember to take care of yourself. Know your limits.
- Seek and accept help from others. (Ask for help!)
- Find your source of strength (i.e. religion, exercise, etc.).
- Recite the 4 "C`s" of Caregiving:
- I didn't cause it.
- I can't cure it.
- I can't control it.
- I can only cope with it.
Communicating with Care Receivers
- Be gentle and sensitive to their situation. It's not easy to be a care receiver.
- Don't assume you know how they feel.
- Express your concerns openly as well as your limitations.
- Be honest. Maintain eye contact.
- Listen. Be attentive.
Tips for the Employed Caregiver
- Be upfront and honest with your boss about your caregiving responsibility.
- Ask about any Employee Assistance Programs.
- Take advantage of any flex-time policies.
- Delegate responsibilities both at work and at home.
- Manage your time well; pace yourself.
- Be flexible with your work schedule: be willing to make up any lost time due to caregiving.
- Seek support: from family and the community.
- Try not to use your vacation time for caregiving. Your vacation time should be for you!
Ten Simple Ways to Help a Caregiver
- Call the caregiver on a regular basis to find out how he or she is doing. Listen with an open heart and a non-judgmental ear.
- Volunteer to stay with the care recipient for one evening or afternoon a week, every other week, or once a month – whatever you can offer.
- Send a note expressing your love and admiration for the family caregiver.
- Encourage the family caregiver to keep up his/her own interests and hobbies. Help him/her find the time needed to do so.
- Lessen the caregiver's load by running errands when you can.
- Call the caregiver and say, "Don`t worry about dinner. I`ll bring it over."
- Be a library runner.
- Offer to make phone calls on behalf of the family caregiver to learn about community services that can help.
- Stop for a visit with the family caregiver and the care recipient.
- Share a hug! "Caregivers give so much of themselves they need regular hug replacements." (from www.caregiving.com)
Know the Warning Signs That May Signal Your Breaking Point
- Shortness of temper
- Physical problems
- Inability to accept help from others
- Withdrawal from people close to you
- Financial problems
- Disinterest in normal leisure activities
Life After Caregiving
- Resume enjoyable activities that you may have given up during caregiving.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Acknowledge your loss.
- Seek support from others.
- Know that it's okay to feel angry.
- Remember the happy times spent with your loved one.