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Five Tips for First Time Family Caregiving

By Jessica Deng

Caregiving for a family member or friend may be one of the most challenging and rewarding – jobs you will ever have. Your first day as a primary source of care for a family member is like your first day of a new school year. Caring for a family member or close friend who is aging or ill is one of the most important roles you can play in that relationship and one of the most complicated.In many instances, caregiving may be triggered by a significant health event such as a stroke, injury, or heart attack. When you’re just beginning to anticipate a need or taking care of a family member full-time, these tips, resources, and checklists can help you get organized and find support on your caregiving journey. Here are a few ways to get started on your journey:

Remind yourself why

Becoming a family caregiver is rewarding but challenging work. It is helpful to enter this new commitment with a clear reminder of why you are doing this in the first place. Whether you are close to your aging parent (s) or the relationship is complicated, it’s best to maintain a clear understanding of “the why” that will help you enter the work with gratitude and concentrate on the hardest days.

Talk to your loved one

This transition in your relationship will be difficult for both you and your loved one. Given these changes, it’s best to simply begin a one-on-one communication. Topics you may discuss include:

  • Your intentions and motivations to be their caregiver
  • Your plans and caregiving schedule
  • Their feelings, needs, and concerns
  • Their hopes and wellness goals
  • Their thoughts on bank accounts, bill payments, and legal documents

Build a Support Network

As a primary caregiver, you may carry the bulk of the daily responsibility, but it does not mean you have to do everything alone. Identify a solid caregiver support system you can rely on to help with the ins and outs of tending to your loved one’s daily needs. Your support system can include family, friends, and community members who are willing to assist with caregiving tasks.

Understand your responsibilities

The responsibilities of a family caregiver depend on the extent and nature of support needed. It is important to take inventory of your loved one’s health, living arrangements, and daily needs, including:

  • Assistance with ADLs
  • Emotional and social support
  • Communicating with family and friends
  • Coordinating with professional care
  • Transportation to doctor’s appointments
  • Helping with medical interventions such as feeding tubes, wound treatments, breathing treatments, and other health needs
  • Bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Buying groceries, preparing meals, cleaning the house, and doing laundry

Remember to take care of yourself, too

Caring for yourself is one of the most critical aspects of being a first-time caregiver. When you make time to care for your needs, your care recipient will also benefit. Don’t neglect exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. Take time to enjoy your favorite activities as you will need to keep up your energy and stay well to care for others.

Family caregivers undertake a major responsibility when caring for an aging parent or relative. For short-term or long-term relief, family caregivers can turn to LifeWorx for dependable and much-needed respite care. Our home care services are medical and non-medical and can fulfill the daily needs of the seniors in our care.

Explore LifeWorx’ in-home elder care services.