Becoming a caregiver for an elderly or disabled adult family member or friend is a major change for both the caregiver and for your family member (care receiver). This transitional time, as you ease into a new role can be confusing, stressful, overwhelming, and downright sad.
As a Caregiver, you are performing an integral role in society, and the Caregiver Resource Center OC is here for you, every step of the way! To help you get started on your caregiving journey, here are recommended first steps, adapted from Family Caregiver Alliance.
1. Take your loved one to a specialist for a diagnosis if you are concerned about behavioral change.
If you’ve noticed changes in your family member’s behavior and have concerns that it may be time to intervene to support their care - the best place to start is with a medical professional. A neurologist or Alzheimer’s clinic will be able to provide a diagnosis and clear care plan. Armed with knowledge, you will have a strong foundation from which to educate yourself and develop a realistic plan for your loved one’s care as their disease progresses. Contact your care receiver’s primary care physician to discuss this.
Early diagnosis of a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer's disease will allow you to begin early treatment. Early treatment is more effective and can delay the progression of the disease. The more time you research and prepare for the eventual progression of any disease, the more resourced you will be as a caregiver for your loved one.
2. Discuss your loved one’s financial and health care wishes
Talk with your care receiver to get clarity on their end of life wishes and what is important to them. If an Advanced Directive or POLST has not been completed, go to www.instituteforhumancaring,org for more information.
Get their financials sorted, take over responsibility for bills, arrange a meeting with an elder law specialist to draw up documents like a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and health care.
If your loved one does not have the capacity to execute legal documents, seek out legal advice to learn about your options. We can assist you with a referral to an elder law attorney if needed.
3. Collaborate with family and friends on the care plan
Bring your family and close friends together with your loved one to develop a care plan and collaborate together. Review all the tasks that must be completed as part of the care plan and see who is willing to offer support to help lighten the load of caregiving. Be sure to discuss any concerns or questions that family or friends may have.
4. Research & Utilize available Community Resources
There are many resources available in our communities to support the elderly. Meals on Wheels, adult day care programs, senior centers and more are in place to support elder care. You don’t have to do everything yourself! And the Caregiver Resource Center OC has many education classes and workshops available to help you feel more prepared for the role of caregiver. Check out our offerings here (link to offerings).
5. Take Care of YOU
As a primary caregiver, you may begin to feel isolated as you take on more and more responsibility for your loved one’s health and wellbeing. Our support groups (link to) are a great way to connect with other caregivers and resources that can help you manage your personal health and wellbeing while you serve as primary caregiver to your loved one.
CRCOC exists to support you, caregivers! Please reach out to our offices if you have any questions.