What Should New Caregivers Do?
If you have children, you may remember being given a book before the first baby was born that had lots of graphs and statistics in it. The book mentioned things such as what the first sounds your baby will make and when you can expect them to sleep through the night, eat solid food, or begin to walk. It set out clear milestones for you to chart and keep track of.
However, it’s not quite the same for new caregivers when taking care of an elderly parent or loved one compared to a baby. Everyone is different and changes might happen rapidly or slowly. It’s difficult to know what to expect or how to prepare yourself. So, here are some general suggestions that every caregiver should consider as you embark on your new role.
Talk to Your Parents Early
Long before it’s absolutely necessary, sit down with your parents and talk to them about their long-term health care plans. This is not an easy conversation to have, especially if they’re currently very healthy. But this should happen by the time they are in their early 70s. Ask what they would want if they become seriously ill. Would they prefer to stay at home? Move in with a relative? Go to an assisted living facility? It’s easier to talk about it before there’s an emergency, rather than wait until it’s too late.
Once you’ve spoken to your parents, talk to family members or friends about how they can help. Create a schedule so they can share in the caregiving. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted and in crisis. Research home healthcare agencies, local senior centers, nonprofit organizations, and other ways you can get assistance. Make sure you get some relief before you need it.
Know Your Parent’s Financial Situation
There are many financial and legal issues with being a caregiver. Do you know if your parents can afford a nursing home? Is a home health aide more practical? Do they want to sell their home? Do they both have wills? Have they signed a DNR or a Power of Attorney? If so, where is their paperwork? Know all the details so there are no surprises. If necessary, talk to an elder law attorney, a social worker, or an accountant for advice and guidance.
Tour Nursing Centers and Senior Facilities
It’s important to tour area facilities and nursing homes now, even if your parents are just fine living on their own. You’ll be glad to know what is available should there ever come a time that a loved one is in need of services. Many of the facilities take years to get into because there are long waiting lists.
Simple things such as uploading your parent’s smart phone with directions to your house or their doctor’s office, simple sentences such as “My name is ___. I need help.”, or their date of birth can make life easier for them and give you peace of mind.
HealthAssist is an application embedded into a Samsung Galaxy watch that can remind them to take their pills, it’s their grand daughter’s birthday, and more! It can also track whether they follow their medication regimen. If it falls below 80%, it will alert you.
New caregivers may become worried and apprehensive. Do you already feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do? Caregiving may be tough, but it also has its rewards. Contact HealthAssist today and we can help.