Although it’s a labor of love, looking after a friend or relative for an extended period of time can be overwhelming for even the most capable informal caregivers. As needs change, long-term home caregivers must manage a unique set of challenges to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable. If you currently find yourself in this position, following these tips will help you more seamlessly navigate the home care landscape as the days transition into months and even years.
Research Your Loved One’s Condition
Consult your loved one’s healthcare providers to learn all you can about their illness, condition, or disease. What are their anticipated, specific care needs over the short- and long-haul? Obtain additional information from books, pamphlets, and the internet. Are there any new skills you need to learn; for instance, how to safely transport someone who uses a wheelchair or home oxygen?
Prioritize Their Home Care Needs
Based on your loved one’s immediate needs, use a log or journal to record their eating patterns, medications, and physical signs. With their permission, modify the home environment to support special needs like a walker, wheelchair, etc.
If other informal caregivers are involved, make a caregiving calendar based on each one’s skills and availability. As the primary caregiver, you’ll also need to create a backup plan if something happens to you.
Use a Caregiving Team Approach
Write down all the specific activities of daily living (ADLs) needs your loved one has, including hygiene, transportation, and meals. Once you have your list, discuss ways to meet those needs with the care recipient and “draft” a care team based on each member’s skills and experience.
It is also essential to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Using a team approach, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others based on their time and talents – as a failure to do so could result in caregiver burnout.
Take Advantage of Community Resources
Most communities offer services that support care recipients and their families. Start by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging. Look into other resources like adult daycare programs, meal delivery services, paratransit services, and professional home care. You can also contact organizations specific to your loved one’s disease or health condition; for example, the Alzheimer’s Association.
Keep Crucial Information Organized
Organize your loved one’s financial information, like bills, loans, bank accounts, and insurance policies. Photocopy important documents, including their social security card, driver’s license, and insurance cards. Write down their doctors’ names, addresses, and phone numbers, along with the medical names of illnesses, medical insurance information, prescription numbers, names, and doses.
Anticipate Their Future Care Needs
Educate yourself on the long-term prognosis of your loved one. For instance, if they have a terminal disease, hospice care may be needed in the future. After assessing their finances, speak to a financial advisor who understands long-term care issues.
Talk to an eldercare lawyer about health care proxy, durable power of attorney, and related topics. If possible, work with a geriatric care manager to help organize and facilitate family meetings and define clear expectations.
Take Care of Yourself
Most importantly, keeping your loved one safe and comfortable relies on your ability to avoid caregiver burnout.
Use these self-care tips:
- Openly sharing your experiences and feelings with loved ones
- Checking into your employer’s caregiver assistance program, if applicable
- Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep
- Joining a caregiver support group
- Continuing to do at least one hobby that brings you pleasure.
- Getting a complete physical annually
When you need to take a well-deserved break, or “respite,” find a trustworthy relative or friend to step in and provide the care your loved one needs. If no one is available, you can also hire a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care provider.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
When you or a loved one need assistance, contact AmeriCare Plus in Virginia. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing that your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like respite care, personal care, dementia care, companionship, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.
Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, along with their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit AmeriCare Plus online now to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.