Starting your caregiving journey
If you’re new to caregiving, there are a number of resources available to help you on your path. Start by checking within your community for local support groups or services. Contact your area health department or your loved one’s primary care provider for recommendations. You can also find help by visiting community health and wellness fairs.
Next, set up a support team – for both you and the person you will be in your care. Start with a family meeting to discuss care options and include your loved one and other family members. Have a realistic and frank discussion about what kind of care is needed and ask everyone to help as they can. This may include volunteering to buy groceries, providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, or scheduling a regular visit to fix meals or just talk. Also, give everyone an opportunity to voice any concerns or suggestions they have to make the transition easier. If appropriate, include close friends, or children in your plans. Offering them the opportunity to continue to be part of the caregiving team is often welcome.
Keep in mind that not everyone feels comfortable providing direct care but may be willing to contribute in other ways, such as running errands or helping out financially. The goal is to share the responsibility for all aspects of your parent’s care with others, so you don’t become overwhelmed. A caregiver calendar or spreadsheet can help you keep track of who’s helping when – and let you plan some downtime for yourself.