As a new family caregiver, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn for answers. This family caregiver FAQ, 10 common questions and answers, will help guide you on your caregiving journey.
What is a family caregiver? A family caregiver is someone who provides unpaid care to a family member or friend who is unable to care for themselves due to age, illness, or disability. According to a report by AARP, 53 million Americans provide unpaid care to their loved ones. 24% of those caregivers are caring for more than one person.
What are some common caregiver responsibilities? Caregiver responsibilities can include providing assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating, as well as managing medications, coordinating medical appointments, and providing emotional support.
How can I balance caregiving with my other responsibilities? Balancing caregiving with other responsibilities can be challenging. Being organized is a must and It’s important to prioritize your own self-care and seek out support from other family members, friends, and community resources. You may also want to consider respite care options to give yourself a break when needed.
How can I communicate effectively with my loved one and their healthcare providers?Effective communication is key when it comes to caregiving. It’s important to listen to your loved one’s needs and concerns and communicate your own in a clear and respectful manner. When talking to healthcare providers, be sure to ask questions and take notes to ensure you understand the care plan.
How can I handle my loved one’s difficult behaviors? Caring for someone with a chronic illness or disability can be challenging, and difficult behaviors may arise. It’s important to remain patient and understanding, and seek out resources and support from healthcare providers and community organizations.
How can I ensure my loved one’s safety at home? Ensuring your loved one’s safety at home may involve making modifications to the home environment, such as installing grab bars or removing tripping hazards (use this home safety checklist as a guide). It’s also important to ensure that your loved one is taking their medications as prescribed and receiving regular medical check-ups.
How can I navigate the healthcare system? Navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your loved one’s insurance coverage and benefits, and ask questions when necessary. You may also want to consider working with a patient advocate or healthcare navigator to help guide you through the system.
How can I manage my loved one’s medications? Managing medications can be a complex task. Be sure to keep a list of all medications your loved one is taking, including dosages and frequencies. Use pill organizers or other tools to help keep track of medication schedules, and notify healthcare providers of any changes in medications or dosages.
How can I access community resources for support? There are a variety of community resources available to support caregivers, such as support groups, respite care programs, and meal delivery services. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer’s Association chapter for more information.
How can I take care of myself as a caregiver? Taking care of yourself as a caregiver is essential. Be sure to make time for your own self-care, such as exercise, relaxation, and social activities. Seek support from family members, friends, or a therapist, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
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.