Becoming the primary caregiver for a senior parent or loved one can be overwhelming. Where do you start? There is so much information that you will need to learn regarding safety and health, along with discovering the extent of the tasks your loved one may need assistance in his or her daily life.
Franklin Park® Senior Living, with retirement communities in San Antonio, Texas, and the surrounding areas, is here to help. The following four tips offer advice to new family caregivers who are beginning the journey of caring for a loved one.
1. Communicate with Doctors
To provide proper care, you need to be aware of any and all medical conditions your parent or loved one may be dealing with. However, your loved one may not fully understand all of the factors of their condition, preventing him or her from communicating them to you effectively. This is why it is essential to gain access to his or her medical information, and establish a relationship with all doctors and medical professionals involved in their healthcare.
By communicating with the doctors that treat your loved one, you can get all of the information and ask questions that your loved one may not have the answers to. Understanding the medical conditions that affect your loved one is a huge part of providing high-quality care.
2. Organize Important Documents
Another important element of family caregiving is organization. Medical history, insurance information, and financial records are all vital. You never know when you will need a specific document, but when you do, you need to be able to access it quickly.
Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH, states, “Information is power and flexibility. When caregivers keep copies of medical results and key information, it’s easier to [make sure a doctor has the latest important information, change doctors or get a second opinion, better understand a medical condition, and double-check the medical care.]”
Talk you your loved one about all of these documents, as well as granting you access to them. For some older adults, this can be a sensitive subject, but it is a critical step to take should an emergency arise, and your parent or loved one is unable to provide this documentation.
3. Connect with Your Loved One
It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of family caregiving. You get swept up in a routine and perform responsibilities without a second thought; however, your senior loved one still needs you.
Family caregiving is unique because the relationship between the caregiver and the person receiving care is already formed. You, the caregiver, have a bond with your loved one that no medical professional ever could. This should be used to your advantage. You understand or have the ability to understand what your senior loved one truly wants. He or she can tell you how they feel, what is working, and what needs to be changed.
Spend quality time with your loved one. Make time to put aside the to-do lists and do something fun with him or her. This can help alleviate stress and strengthen your relationship.
4. Take Care of Yourself
How do you expect to care for someone else if you do not first tend to your own needs? You need to be emotionally and physically well in order to properly care for someone else. At the start of every airline trip, you are instructed to first put on your oxygen mask before assisting others in the case of an emergency. The same principle applies to family caregiving.
Find time to relax and do things that you enjoy. Exercise regularly and fuel your body with healthy foods. “As a caregiver, you need to stay as strong and healthy as possible,” Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. says. For more tips on caregiver self-care, visit HelpGuide.
Caring for a senior parent or loved one is a rewarding experience, even though it can seem overwhelming at times. Assisted living is a great alternative to full-time caregiving. Franklin Park® Senior Living has communities in San Antonio, Texas, and the surrounding areas, that offer a variety of services and care that will make you and your loved one feel comfortable and at home.