Getting ready for the most gratifying task of your life!
I said gratifying, not easy! It is actually going to be one of the hardest tasks you take on. However, filling your heart with kindness, love and compassion for the person you will be taking care of will be the best and most gratifying thing you can do in a lifetime. Many people who become caregivers do not have time to prepare for the “job” and have to learn as they go, making it very hard to keep up with the changing world behind the unexpected. However, if you are one of the lucky ones to have the luxury of preparing for the care you will provide your elder parent or relative, I suggest you take that opportunity.
Anticipate Legal Needs
The best way to prepare ahead when you know you are going to be a caregiver soon is by asking yourself some questions and the answer for these will tell you how ready you are. Here are a few of the most important questions you can ask yourself in this case:
- -If your loved one would not be able to make her or his own medical decisions (situation that can happen down the road), do you know what their wishes are?
- Do you know the location of important documents your loved one holds such as financial papers, wills, insurance documentation and others?
- Have you been authorized to watch and take over your loved one’s finances once they are not able to handle that themselves?
- Are there any legal documents where your loved has stated what his or her desires in regards to her health care are? If the answer is no, have you asked him or her?
Evaluating and Understanding Care Needs
Yes, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. You probably feel like a chicken without a head not know what to look for, what to buy, or how get your home ready before you begin this journey. You need to sit down and do some brainstorming and give this some thought. The plan you come up with has to be based on what type of condition your loved one is going through. Is it dementia? Is it related to health deterioration? Is it the normal old aging stage? Again, the best to asses this is by asking and answering yourself some questions such as the following:
- What is your loved one suffering from?
- Are you 100% educated on the condition?
- Does the household need to change? (think about lighting, ramps, grab-bars, toilet safety and other)
- What are their nutritional needs?
- Should I rely on respite care?
- What other service might have to be implemented down the road?
Are you thinking about yourself?
While you are planning for everything your loved one needs for this to work out good enough for him or her, have you stopped for a moment to think about yourself? Yes! You will have needs too! The very first term that comes up when you begin educating yourself about how to be a caregiver, is caregiving stress. As a human being, you must understand that you have social, emotional, and mental and health needs and they must never be set aside under any circumstances. So ask yourself the following:
- Can I manage on my own as a caregiver?
- If I need a break (and trust me, you WILL need it), who do I turn to?
- What type of support groups are there near my area? Online?
- How do I take care of myself?
These are the basic question you should be asking yourself before you go down the caregiving road. However, you must learn to be like water and flow with any changes that come along during your journey. Every situation is different and requires individualized care not only for your loved one but also for yourself. These questions though, will set you on the right track to get prepared for the BEST part of your life! Do not be afraid to be a caregiver! Embrace it!