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If you are new to being a caregiver, you may be going through some significant life changes right now. Remember to be patient with yourself. Learning to be a caregiver takes time.
Every caregiving situation is different and it’s hard to know how to prepare.
To start you off, here are some general tips for new caregivers:
- Start the conversation. Many people wait until a crisis occurs before they talk about their values and preferences, wishes for health care or details of their finances. If you wait until a fall, accident or serious diagnosis, you may not know what your loved one wants.
- Form your team. No one should approach the emotions and responsibilities of caregiving alone. While other family members are likely sources of help, friends, colleagues and support groups are great resources, too. Don’t wait until you’re completely overwhelmed with caregiving to ask for help. Start talking to other family members and friends about ways that they can share in caregiving.
- Make a plan. Putting together a caregiving plan now will help you respond more quickly and effectively. It may also provide some peace of mind. A plan helps everyone get on the same page and keeps the focus on what’s best for your loved one.
- Consider the legal and financial implications. Start thinking about some of the difficult legal and financial issues you may face as a caregiver. If your loved one goes into a nursing home, how will she afford it? Would you sell her house? How does power of attorney work? Does she have a will? Tackling these issues can be upsetting. But it’s best to know the details so you’re not taken by surprise. Talk to a geriatric care manager, a social worker, an elder law attorney or get in touch with a caregivers’ organization.
To help you be prepared when a loved one comes home from the hospital or nursing home, check out Tips for Family Caregivers.
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