There’s nothing that really prepares you to become a family caregiver.
You know you would do anything for family, but until it happens, you don’t know every little thing that goes into caring for someone after an accident or for a parent who has difficulties with mobility. Caregivers have to learn as they go, and we want to help ease the stress you may feel by giving you our four top tips for family caregivers.
Recruit a Deeper Bench
You can’t do it alone. No one can. That’s why it’s necessary to call in backup from time to time. Sometimes you may need help because you’re completely overwhelmed, and sometimes you may need help because you have an emergency you need to deal with. We recommend making a list of people you trust to help your family member that needs extra care. Reach out to those people to get their latest contact information if you don’t have it already, and ask them if they’re comfortable stepping in when they get a call from you.
Before you tag someone in to help out, make sure you have helpful things written down like medication schedules and emergency contact information. When you call for help, leave things that your loved one uses regularly out in the open so your friend or at-home caregiver can find them easily. If you set your trusted friend or family member up for success, it will be easier to ask for their help in the future!
Get the Legal Stuff in Order
Getting the legal stuff out of the way will take a load off your shoulders, so we recommend doing it sooner rather than later. That way if a crisis occurs, you’re prepared. Start by getting these five documents in order:
- Power of Attorney (POA): this will allow the family member you care for to choose someone who will be able to make legal and financial decisions if or when they are no longer competent.
- Healthcare Proxy: this is the person your family chooses to make healthcare decisions for them when they are no longer able.
- Living Will: this document states how your family member would like doctors to proceed with treatment if they are no longer competent including medical care and life support.
- Living Trust: this allows your family member to appoint a person or financial institution to take care of their finances.
- Will: the will appoints an individual to be the executor who will manage your family member’s estate if they have passed, and the beneficiaries of the estate.
Make Your Home Accessible
When family members are no longer able to care for themselves, there’s little that we can control. Something we can control is how easy it is to navigate through the home. Do a quick walk-through to see what obstacles keep your family member from getting from room to room in the house without help. Some barriers might include: bumps in the doorway, stairs to the front or back of the house, stairs inside the home, and low toilet seats in the bathroom. If any of these barriers are present, the following products can offer an easy fix to overcome physical obstacles in the home:
- Door Threshold Ramp, Mat, or Plate
- Semi-permanent Ramp
- Home Access Lift
- Stair Lift
- Toilet Incline Lift
Find Time to Focus on Yourself
The most important tip we can give you is to set aside time to focus on yourself. You’re a family caregiver now, but you have to care for yourself as well. Sometimes this means making time for your own doctor appointments or taking a walk around the block by yourself to clear your head. When you care for yourself, you’re able to care for others better. So make a list right now of things that make you happy! Then make an appointment in your calendar and call on someone from that deep bench you just recruited, and spend a little time on yourself.
We know this is not a magic list to make all of your problems go away, but we hope this helps ease a little worry and stress for you. If you have any questions about access solutions feel free to learn more on our residential products page or reach out to our Customer Service team.