7 Tips for Family Caregivers

A caregiver’s role is both overwhelming and rewarding. Caregiving often derives from a need to take care of a loved one who is unable to care for themselves the way they once could.

Caregiving often comes with new responsibilities and unfamiliar tasks, creating questions like:

  • What do I do first?
  • What kinds of support can I receive?
  • Where can I look for help?

When you are a caregiver, whether it happened suddenly or was a gradual transition, it’s important to understand your role and how to access resources.

Here are 7 tips to assist with transitioning into the role of a caregiver:

  1. Learn About Your Loved One’s Condition.

Become informed. Learn about your loved one’s diagnosis and treatment. With your loved one’s permission, you may want to speak with the doctor or nurse if you have any concerns. Having up-to-date medical information can help you to manage your loved one’s health care and medications, and it is crucial to have in case of an emergency.

Knowing their condition helps to prepare you for what to expect.

  1. Learn About Their Insurance.

For help with insurance rules and regulations, contact the insurance company.  Some companies will assign a case manager to address concerns, clarify benefits and suggest ways to obtain additional health-related services.

Knowing details about their insurance helps you understand coverage and relieve financial stressors.

  1. Review Legal Documents.

At a minimum, review or create a Durable Power Of Attorney (DPOA) for healthcare. Other important legal documents include living wills, advance directives, Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP), and on the business side, DPOA for finances, trusts, wills, and estate planning.

Knowing your loved one's wishes and completing legal documents lifts the burden of having to make difficult decisions.

  1. Organize Help.

Decide which of your loved one’s needs you can meet on your own, and which ones you need help with.  Then, ask family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers or professionals to share the care. Ideally, many people will want to help.

Join a Caregivers Support Group. A support group provides a safe, supportive environment for sharing feelings and discussing the challenges and rewards of being a caregiver.

Knowing you have help and sharing with others reinforces you’re not alone.

  1. Take Care of Yourself.

Do something good for yourself. Take a few moments for yourself each day to do something enjoyable or relaxing, even if it’s just taking a walk around the block. Give yourself credit for all you do as a caregiver, and find ways to reward yourself for working hard.

Remember, your health is valuable. Stay on top of your doctor appointments, and find a good system for remembering to take any medications you need to stay healthy.

As a caregiver, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed and need more than friends or family members to talk to. Speaking with a counselor or social worker can help you cope with some of the emotions or concerns you may be facing.

  1. Understand Your Rights.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, most employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for family members who need time off to care for a loved one.

  1. Prepare For Life After Caregiving.

How you cope with caregiving makes a difference. It will be easier to start whatever comes next if you were able to maintain a reasonable balance between caregiving and all the other important parts of your life. There is life after caregiving. What it will be depends, in part, on how you lived through caregiving.

Knowing how to create balance helps you maintain balance in your life.

Catholic Hospice provides complimentary Grief Support Programs for those who have suffered a loss. For more information about the support we provide to caregivers, please visit our website, call us at 305.822.2380 or send an e-mail to SpecialCare@CatholicHospice.org.