You’ve recently found yourself responsible for the care of a loved one. Maybe you’ve been anticipating this for your aging mom, or a sudden accident leaves your husband unable to carry out his normal daily activities. Each circumstance comes with its unique set of needs, and it can feel overwhelming trying to meet them all. Navigating a situation like this isn’t something you’ve prepared for: emotionally, financially, or physically. But it is something you must handle. Yes, you can and will handle this. It’s time to roll your sleeves up and get the job done because someone you love is counting on you.
We’ve put together a guide for first time care givers to start with. Remember: take it one step a time.
1. You Are Not Alone: Find Support In Others
Please don’t think you have to take this on all by yourself. Peer support is so vital right now. Let family members and friends know what is going on. Simply keeping them in the loop will make space for them to offer their support, suggestions and guidance. If they offer support, express gratitude and follow up on their offer after you have established your needs ( we’ll discuss how to establish your needs this later ). If it is hard for you to share information or ask for help, remember that keeping others in the dark and not asking for support can leave you feeling alone, stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. Of course, share what and to whom you feel most comfortable with. Research support groups, online forums and community-based organizations in your area that you can attend. These groups will connect you to others with shared experiences.
2. Determine Your Loved One’s Needs ( Make a List)
What are their health, household, personal and other needs? Do they want to relocate from home to a facility? Do they need a few hours of care per day or do they require 24-hour support? No matter the size, from smallest to largest, write a list of each need. From help with laundry to help bathing and dressing. It is important to ask your loved one and let them tell you what their needs are. Listen with respect and patience. This list will be used as a reference guide to ensure their needs are met and they receive the highest quality of care to improve their quality of life.
3. Explore Your Care Giver Options
Are you going to be the primary care giver? If so, you need to determine if this option is feasible. It may require you to work less or quit your job all together and restructure your days around caregiver. This option is ideal if you have the time and can afford acting as the primary caregiver for your loved one.
With a job and a family of your own, you may not have the time and money to be the primary care giver. That is okay. You need to explore your alternatives and pick the best one. Here are your options: You can get in home care through a care giver or you can relocate your loved one to a facility with healthcare professionals.
Finding a Caregiver
Recruit Someone You Know
First, spread the word to family and friends. Your niece who just graduated college may be looking for a job or your neighbor, a retired nurse, is willing to help. Just make you’re your expectations are clear and they are qualified to fit the bill.
- Trust– Since you’ve found them through your network, they are assumed to have an established level of credibility and trust
- Freedom– You have the freedom to choose the caregiver and avoid third party interference
- Unqualified -Friends and family members may not have the required training and may be unable to meet care needs
- Mix business with pleasure– we are all familiar with this right? Employing a friend or family member is always a risk if something goes bad the relationship may sever
Hire a Caregiver
Hire Through a Home Care Agency: Home Care agencies will schedule, facilitate, and monitor care for you. They provide specialized care through Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) who receive formal training to provide basic care and companionship to patients. CNA’s undergo background checks and work under the supervision of nurses and doctors in hospitals, private homes and other facilities.
- Screened– they have undergone background checks
- Credentials- they have received formal training
- Experience- Agency Caregivers are likely to have experience working with a variety of clients
- Back up care- If you need backup care, agencies will staff immediately
- Price– it can be a bit pricey to hire a caregiver through an agency
- Minimum hours– each agency has a minimum number of cares hours they can provide
- Caregiver choice– the agency will dispatch caregivers to your home rather than you are choosing a caregiver. However, most agencies will accommodate to meet your satisfaction
Hire a Private Caregiver: Find a private caregiver through on registries. They may or may not be formally trained to provide care.
- Price- it may be cheaper to hire private than through an agency
- Your rules- with a private caregiver, you don’t need to follow agency rules; you, the care giver, and person receiving care make the rules
- No back up care- you will be without backup care if your caregiver cannot work and you have no back up plan
- Training- private caregivers may not have the same, or any formal healthcare training
Now that we’ve touched bas on the option of hiring a caregiver, lets explore looking into care facilities such as assisted living, skilled nursing facilities,
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities provide long-term, 24-hour personal care to residents through CNA’s nurses and other healthcare professionals. Assisted living facilities are like apartment complexes, residents can choose from studios to multiple bedroom floor plans. These facilities come with extensive health and wellness services and other essentials for aging adults.
Since this option can be on the pricier side, it may involve a private pay undertaking to afford.
Skilled Nursing Facilities
These facilities are for folks who need around the clock care and support in their daily living activities like eating, bathing, dressing and more. Residents can be any age. They are often bedbound or live with more complex health needs that require the assistance of a skilled nurse, respiratory care, physical and speech therapy or more. Residents will likely share a room with someone else.
Like assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities can be on the pricier side and applicants should consider payment plans or financial assistance.
4. Create and Implement the Plan
After you have found support in others, determined your lived ones needs and decided what type of care method you want, it is time to create the plan. When do you need the care by? How will you pay for this care and who will oversee finances? Consolidate your support group and use your checklist as a guideline for the plan.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Balancing caregiving with work and other obligations an be stressful. Do not overlook how much of your energy will be put toward providing your loved one adequate care. Maintain your self care – get enough sleep and eat healthy to sustain your highest level of energy. Take time to do things that make you happy land remember to reach out to your support group for help.