If you are about to begin caring for a loved one who is suffering from a long-term health condition, the more you know beforehand, the better off you will be. Here are some tips on how to proceed with your plans:
1. Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition. Read about your family member’s health condition, speak to his or her physicians and medical staff, and join support groups. This information will help you to have a better grasp of how best to help your loved one, and it will give you a better picture of what you will and will not be able to do in the caregiving process. This is particularly important if your loved one is suffering from a progressively debilitating illness.
2. Locate community resources that will be able to provide assistance when necessary. This can include everything from senior centers to adult day care facilities. It is easier to find and make the initial contact with these services before you begin caring for your loved one than after, when spare time will be at a premium.
3. Be clear on your role as well as on your relative’s wishes. To the extent that you are able to do so, discuss your new role with your loved one. Determine what your loved one expects or needs help with, and what you are able to provide. You also may wish to consult with an attorney who is familiar with elder law so that a power-of-attorney, living will, or other documents may be drafted. Having these discussions about your role as a caregiver ahead of time will help to ease stress and misunderstandings later on in the caregiving process.
Founded in 2006, WellMed Charitable Foundation helps seniors age 60 and older and their caregivers in South and Central Texas. The non-profit organization focuses on prevention, wellness, and living with chronic illness. For more information about the WellMed Charitable Foundation’s caregiver services, call 1-866-390-6491.