The Key First Steps in Caring for a Loved One at Home
It might have been presumed, or perhaps broadsided you out of the blue. Mom has just received the official diagnosis for a progressive disease that is likely to make independent life a challenge. While there are a number of uncertainties, one thing is for sure: she's adamant about remaining at home – meaning you’ll have some decisions to make about how to provide for the care she’ll need.
Welcome to the world of family caregiving and caring for a loved one at home! If you’re feeling a bit stressed with what to anticipate next, the following tips can help.
Learn as much as you can about the disease. Your loved one’s doctor can provide you with educational materials and resources that will help you know what to expect and to increase confidence in your caregiving role.
Get organized. Create a folder to save important paperwork in: test results, prescription details, contact information for doctors' offices together with the pharmacy, and any other important medical information. Start a journal to help keep track of any changes in condition or concerns that arise, as well as the details surrounding those changes.
Set aside past hurts. A new diagnosis may cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unsettled issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, turn to the support of a professional therapist to work through them.
Establish boundaries together. Talk to your loved one about how much and what kind of help could be beneficial. It’s natural to want to step in and take control, nevertheless, it’s important for the senior to maintain as much independence and control as possible.
Take proper care of yourself, too. Your own personal health and wellbeing are equally important. And, the degree of care you provide can be compromised if your own needs are not being met. Prioritize and designate time daily for self-care by seeking out and accepting help from others.
It is vital to know about the risk for depression and caregiver burnout, and to do something immediately, should you start to experience red flags including:
Increased anxiety, agitation, and irritability
Withdrawing from social interactions
Lack of interest in once-enjoyed pastimes
Loss of appetite
Difficulties with falling or staying asleep
Difficulty with concentration and focus
Identifying a trustworthy care partner provides time to see the doctor for a checkup to rule out other potential health concerns, to talk with a therapist to effectively work through the countless emotions involved in caregiving, and to relax and recharge.
The caregiving team at The Care Company is here with further resources for family caregivers, as well as skilled, dependable respite care services that allow for a healthy life balance. Reach out to us for a free in-home consultation to find out more as you are caring for elderly parents in Toronto or the surrounding areas.