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35 Things Every Caregiver Should Know

There is no doubt that caregiving can be a challenging job, but you can get the help you need – from emotional reassurance to suggestions for getting help

There is no doubt that caregiving can be a challenging job, but you can get the help you need. Below are 35 supportive tips – from emotional reassurance to suggestions for getting help.

1.  A Caregiver is someone who cares for an aging, ill, injured or disabled person.

2.  Caregiving duties range from occasional errand-running and other supportive care to 24-hour, live-in support.

3.   About one fourth of adults are Caregivers.

4.   You can provide care yourself or bring in other family members. You can also hire a professional Caregiver.

5.   When possible, you and the person being cared for should make decisions together.

6.   Taking care of yourself is as important as caring for your loved one.

7.  Be sure to eat well, get enough rest and exercise regularly.

8.  The healthier you are, the better care you will provide!

9.  Don’t be afraid to say you need a break – no one can do it all by themselves.

10. Help and support can come from community organizations, religious organizations, family members, friends or neighbors.

11. When people offer to help, say YES!

12. Keep a list of the things you can use help with, such as bringing dinner or giving you a break. When someone offers to help, have them choose from the list.

13. Find out about meal delivery, transportation services, adult day care and respite care.

14. If you are balancing work and caregiving, talk to your employer about flexibility in your job.

15. You may be able to take time off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law allows qualified employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for a family member.

16. Caregiving duties often change over time. A loved one may need occasional help now and more care later on.

17. Planning ahead can make caregiving easier in the future.

18. As a Caregiver, you will need to learn about medical, financial and legal issues.

19. Talk with the person you are caring for about money, medical care and legal issues. This may not be easy, but it is critical in planning for the future.

20. Keep social security number, doctors’ names and phone numbers, prescriptions and insurance information where you can find them in an emergency.

21. Find out about a Durable Power of Attorney for health care and finances. These give you the legal right to make decisions if your loved one cannot.

22. You may need to know about income, bank accounts, wills and insurance policies.

23. Talk with a lawyer about legal issues and financing care. Legal aid is available to people who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.

24. Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s illness, disease or condition.

25. Get information about the condition by talking to a health care provider, reading books or searching the Internet.

26. All Caregivers feel overwhelmed at times.  If you often feel
overwhelmed, you may need to get help.

27. If you feel angry or often lose patience with the person you are caring for, get help.

28. If you use alcohol, drugs or medication in order to cope, get help.

29. If you are depressed, talk to a doctor, counselor or therapist. Depression can be treated.

30. It is critical for Caregivers to develop a support system.

31. You can get support from a support group, therapist, family members or friends.

32. Caregiver support groups can help you connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

33. A sense of humor can help you deal with the emotional ups and downs.

34. Caregivers who get help are better able to provide care for the long term and less likely to burn out.

35. Caregiving is not an easy job – but it can be very rewarding!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Wendy February 11, 2013 at 09:28 PM
There are also agencies out there that can help. I work for Granny Nannies in St. Pete and we help families all the time. We can do so many things from checking in on a loved one while the family is at work to taking the family member to a doctor's appointment. Avail yourself of these lifelines.
Kathy James February 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Great article!
Jane Michaels February 18, 2013 at 07:06 PM
These are some excellent tips. One of the most important being in a support groups. I am in one of Linda's groups and she is awesome!
Robb Winger February 20, 2013 at 01:10 PM
Well thought out and presented! As a caregiver for an elderly parent, all of your points were relevant to the process, especially number 11- say YES, gratefully, to offers of help even if your patient only wants you to help. Part of being a caregiver is remembering that you are caring for two people now, and YOU are one of them! We all want to provide care in a patient and loving way and allowing people to help you help will go a long way to keeping your patience batteries charged- this can involve items that may not even involve your patient- allow your friends to maybe pick up your dry cleaning, etc., or if you are helping manage your patient's household maybe you want to consider getting a housekeeper for yourself so that you aren't spending your limited personal time in drudgery.
michael mirra February 20, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Care giving is a fulfillment in itself. From 1995 through 2000, I quit work & was a live in caregiver for my two elderly parents. I became their nurse & physical therapist along with being their baby sitter. I earned zero $ those years & lived off their social security along with them. We didn't have much, but we had each other. To me, now in hindsight, I feel if God put each of us here for a specific purpose, that was his reason for putting me here. It was the most rewarding time of my life & I thank God I was there for them, as they were always there for me, unconditionally, all their lives. During those years, there was no place else I'd rather be & no place else I could have been.
KC February 20, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Linda, you truly are a wonderful person. You are a blessing to all you encounter!
Mark McKay March 11, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Another winning post, Linda!
Swiffer Wet Jet March 11, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Someone needs to address the fact that sometimes one child can act as caregiver and does the work of many because the others don't bother to lend a hand, check-in, offer financial assistance, visit or otherwise. If you are reading this and don't offer any help to your sibling(s) who might be doing the all the work - be ashamed of yourself. Very ashamed.
Sue Riling March 27, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Sue Riling I copied these tips and will pass along to my sister. She gives and gives, we ask her how your doing, she NEVER says she needs anything. After talking with you we started being instint on helping whether she asked or not. We didn't mean to take advantage of her. Sue
Teresa Morrow April 22, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Thanks Linda for providing this helpful list for caregivers. One tip I used that is on your list is #11, when others offer to help, say YES! Many people may see that asking and receiving help from others is a sign of weakness, but no one can do all of the things required or needed when caregiving for someone you love. When you are not at your best, you are not able to fully give care to those you love. Its okay, in fact, it is better when you can accept help from others so you can provide the best of you to those you are giving care to.

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