Every caregiver can use a little help or advice from time to time. The other day I was listening to some music and a song by Cher came on, and I know you’ve all heard it. It’s if it, “If I could turn back time”. That’s a classic, isn’t it? I love Cher and all of her music. But that one really got me thinking about if I could turn back time and do over some of the hardest things that I’ve done in my life, what kind of things would I change and what kind of advice would I have for myself? My caregiving experiences have been some of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. To know what I know now at the start of my journey would’ve been a real gift.
5 Things I’d Tell My New Caregiver Self
1. Have the Conversations
The first piece of advice I would give myself as a new caregiver is to make sure that I was having the right conversations with my loved ones early on. You know the conversations I’m talking about. We think that we have time. That the hard conversations can wait until later.
But honestly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who are best prepared and have had the tough conversations are going to have the best experiences as it relates to aging and caregiving. Talk to your loved ones about:
Long Term Care
Age in place or senior living community?
Legal and financial documents
Defining family members’ roles in a care situation
End of life
2. Get Educated
There is a lot to learn when you start your journey as a caregiver. Arming yourself with some education will empower you to be the best caregiver possible for your loved one. Educate yourself about:
We all want to be self-sufficient. But you need to know when it’s time to seek help and support. Caregiving is a really tough job, and if you have the right skill set to go with the needs that are present, you’ll be in good shape. But if not, it’s not a shameful thing to reach out and seek support. Engage family members as much as possible. If you can’t find the help and support you need within the family, there might be neighbors or friends who would be willing to pitch in.
4. Utilize Community Resources
There are all kinds of services available right in your own backyard. Here are a few places to check for programs and resources:
Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.