Taking on the role of caregiver means sharpening your skill sets—and learning lots of new ones. Here's help
1 Gather info
Ask your loved one's doctor and pharmacist questions that will help you better understand the condition and treatment program.
2 Learn skills
Identify skills you might need to better care for your loved one (such as managing medications). Your hospital may offer classes. Or find instructional videos online. Try caregiver.org.
3 Do discovery
Be aware of any legal documents that relate to your loved one's care planning and end-of-life decisions. For example:
- LIVING WILL: puts in writing the medical treatments a person would or would not allow when unable to speak for themselves
- DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE: names someone to make medical decisions
- DO-NOT-RESUSCITATE ORDER: instructions written by a patient's doctor that tell health care providers not to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation if breathing or heartbeat stops
- For free assistance with legal issues, try palawhelp.org or Eldercare Locator at eldercare.acl.gov or 1-800-677-1116.
4 Find your tribe
Caregiving can become isolating, and it always helps to let off steam with others who can relate. Many community centers and hospitals host caregiver support groups. Online groups work, too; search using the name of your loved one's condition and the words "caregiver support group."
5 Tend your health
Take care to eat healthy foods, squeeze in downtime, and spend time with other family and friends.
6 Speak up
Get comfortable asking others for help so you can step away and focus on your own needs.
7 Have a backup
You don't have to do it all. Look into local resources that may provide practical assistance, such as a transportation service, adult daycare, or meal delivery services.