A Checklist for New Caregivers: Tips to make your job easier-Caring for an older adult, ill or Disabled adult.
Caring for an older, ill or disabled person can be challenging-especially if you are new to the task. There are steps you can take to make the job easier.
Learn about the disease, condition or illness:
*Talk to a health care provider. Ask:
Is this a long or short term situation?
What are the person’s specific care needs?
How will those needs change over time?
*Ask about special skills. For example, ask how to move someone with limited mobility or how to give medications.
*Get more information from books, pamphlets or the Internet.
Explore your options:
*Write down specific needs, such as meals, bathing, household chores, physical therapy and doctor’s appointments.
*Discuss ways to meet those needs with the person being cared for, relatives, friends and the person’s health care provider.
*Find out if you can take time off from work under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Research community Resources:
*Talk with hospital staff about services in your area. Contact your county health department about public resources.
*Call your local Area Agency on Aging and contact organizations specific to the disease, such as the Alzheimer’s Association.
*Explore options such as adult day care, meal delivery, transportation services, respite services and in-home support services.
*Consider hiring a care manager. This is a social worker or nurse who specializes in arranging care.
*Keep the information you collect in a notebook or on the computer. Even if you don’t use it now, you may later on.
Plan for immediate care:
*Ask the person being cared for about his or her wishes around immediate care.
*Adapt the living environment for special needs, such as a walker, wheelchair or bedside commode.
*Consider how you will track the person’s health and care needs. Keep a log or journal of eating patterns, medications and physical symptoms.
*If other family members are providing support, write down who will be in charge of what task.
Enlist the help of others:
*Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t try to do it all.
*Make a list of people who can help.
*List the tasks that others can so, such as running errands or bringing dinner.
*Ask a friend, family member or neighbor to call people or arrange for help.
Organize important information:
-Doctor’s names, phone numbers and addresses
-Medical name of the illness
-Medical insurance information
-Prescription numbers, names and doses
*Organize financial information such as household bills, loans and debts, bank accounts and insurance policies.
*Photocopy important information such as the social security, driver’s license and insurance cars of the person being cared for.
Plan for the future:
*Get information about the long-term prognosis. Knowing what will happen in the future will help you plan for care.
*Access finances. Talk to a financial advisor familiar with care issues.
*Talk to a lawyer or legal aid representative about a Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare and finances.
*Talk to a friend, family member or counselor about your feelings.
*Join a support group.
*Do you feel overwhelmed? If so, talk to your doctor, therapist or another health professional right away.
Take care of yourself too:
*Talk to your friends and family members. Enlist their support.
*Find out if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program that provides support for caregivers.
*Let go of less important commitments. No one can do it all!
*Keep doing at least one activity or hobby that brings you pleasure.
*Take regular breaks from caregiving.
*Make sure you are meeting your own care needs: eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and spending time with family and friends.
New caregivers face many challenges-from understanding the illness to providing immediate care or planning for the future. This checklist provides an overview of common caregiving issues. For more information, visit http://www.aarp.org or to find support groups and services in your area, consult your local phone book. You can also call the Eldercare Locater at 1-800-677-1116 or visit http://www.eldercare.gov on the Internet.
Written by Mardi Richmond for Journeyworks Publishing.
*Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Journeyworks Pamphlet on ‘A Check list for New Caregivers’ and offers helpful advice for new caregivers. I have tried to include many of their pamphlets as I had found them helpful in my caregiving role and want to share them will all of my readers.