Advice for New Caregivers

advice for new caregiversTaking charge of mom or dad’s affairs and becoming the one responsible for their well-being may have happened suddenly with a crisis event, or it may have snuck up on you over time. However you ended up here, you likely feel like you need some advice. Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate this new world.

Set Good Boundaries

Setting good boundaries can be difficult when it comes to the loved ones who are closest to us, like our parents. They sacrificed so much for us, right? However, if you drop everything for mom and dad it will cause much larger problems, and you’ll be so burned out you won’t be able to be there for them. If mom is calling you from assisted living mulitple times throughout the workday, you need to be clear that this is preventing you from fulfilling your obligations to your employer or clients. This may seem harsh, but if you career begins to suffer you won’t be as effective when it comes to caring for her.

Understand that Needs Change

If you’ve been thrust into your new role by a stroke, accident, or other crisis event, there will be a time when life begins to settle into a routine again. But don’t get too set in your ways: there may be another crisis that’s somewhere around the bend. It’s simply part of the unpredictability of life, and you will need to adapt if you’re going to keep up with your parent’s needs. What worked before may not work now. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to look into adding new care.

Reach Out to Others in Your Situation

You’ll get a great deal of support from those whose loved ones have more advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia. You can find a caregiver support group somewhere near you, or you can seek out others online. This may in fact be better since you and other caregivers probably don’t have much time for face-to-face meetings. Try the Alzheimer’s Association or your local hospital for recommendations.

Notice that a lot of this advice has to do with taking care of yourself, your physical well-being, and your own mental state. The old cliche of helping yourself before you can help others has never been more applicable than when it comes to caregiving. Your loved one is counting on your health for their own wellbeing.