What to keep in mind
Naturally you want to take proper care of your loved one. That means preparing and planning. You need to:
- learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition;
- create an action plan;
- prepare your loved one’s home;
- organize contact information and documents;
- seek support from others and share your workload with them.
Here are some tips on how to go about doing those things. They’ll help to make your caregiving a lot easier.
Learn: Understanding diagnosis
Be sure to get full details of your loved one’s current condition. If your loved one has symptoms that concerns you, talk to their doctor and other medical experts. Ask them to explain your loved one’s condition.
This will help you to feel more confident in your caregiving. It could also benefit the person you look after.
With an early diagnosis, she or he might be able to keep taking care of her/himself for some time yet.
Is the person you care for incontinent? Urinary incontinence is a common problem – many different medical conditions lead to it. Learn as much as you can about it. Then you can choose the right solutions and the best products for your loved one.
When you know all about their condition, you’ll find it easier to take care of them.
Create a plan
It’s important to think ahead and plan your caregiving. This will help you organize your time, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. It will also ensure your loved one gets the care they need – for example, their medicine – when they need it.
We recommend creating a caregiving plan. Write down how you’ll care for her/him and outline the caregiving tasks to do for the next few weeks or months. Then you can discuss your plan with the person you’re caring for – and the people who might be able to support you.
To get started, download our free care plan template (PDF).
Discuss your workload
Hiding your problems won’t help. It just makes them bigger. So talk about your loved one’s situation with your family and close friends. Let them know about all the work your caregiving involves. Chances are, some might be willing to help you.
Most people know very little about what it’s like to be a caregiver. So your family and friends will probably be interested to hear about your experience. The more they learn about the good job you’re doing, the more likely they are to offer support or come up with practical suggestions.
There’s nothing wrong with saying what you need and asking for support. When someone offers you help, don’t shy away from accepting it.
For some helpful tips on involving your family and friends in your caregiving, see Sharing the caring.
Prepare the home
The person you care for may be unsteady on their feet or bedridden. In either case you will need to make their/your home safe for them to move around. Or safe for you to move around while you take care of them. Also, to make your life as a caregiver easier, you should arrange your caregiving environment to make it as efficient as possible.
Get tips on preparing the home in Home safety.
Organize important information
It’s good to be organized when you’re caring for someone. It helps you feel confident and prepared for the future. So keep important contact information and documents in one place, where you can find them quickly. You might want to make a list of contact details for doctors, lawyers, and local pharmacists.
Does your loved one have a poor memory? If so, be sure to write down their passwords (and keep them secure). And make a note of their friends’ or other family members’ contact details.
You’re human, not a robot. And even if you have a lot of energy, there’s only so much you can do on your own.
If you’d like to give your loved one the best possible care, then try to find others to relieve you. People who can take over your responsibilities when you’re tired. They could be helping you with grocery shopping, helping around the house with cleaning etc. or with transporation to doctors´appointments.
Of course, sharing your caregiving work with family and friends is great. But if you can, get professional support. For example, consider hiring:
- a nurse to assist you at home;
- a company that delivers meals to your home;
- a live-in companion to help you with tasks.
If that’s not possible, try to get social care support from your local government.
Stay in touch with caregiving communities or support groups – and with medical institutions or organizations. All of them can usually give you the help you need. You’ll find a list of links to such organizations here.