Being a caregiver for an elderly loved one is not something many people plan for in advance. It is important to know what to do when put in this position. It can be overwhelming at first, especially since caring for a senior is unlike caring for anyone else.
First, it is important to assess the situation and know the basics. Two of the most important things for caregivers to know are information about their seniors’ health problems/diagnoses, and the medications their seniors are taking.
Financial responsibilities are also important to figure out. Making a list of the different expenses a senior has, such as medications, food and insurance, is a good first step. Once a rough monthly expense is calculated, the caregiver can figure out where the money will come from.
Once caregivers have established this basic information, they may want to enact guidelines. Setting boundaries is a good way to stop situations from becoming too overwhelming or stressful. Without boundaries, caregiver burnout is likely to occur.
Even when boundaries are set, they are unlikely to stay that way. The health of a senior will change, and boundaries will need to change as well. If a senior's health greatly declines, the caregiver may need to look into making changes; including a move into an assisted living home. If the caregiver needs a break, adult day care or a short-term respite stay are also options to consider.
If you are a new caregiver, it is useful to know about your loved one’s health condition, have a list of their medications and understand your financial responsibilities. To protect your emotional health and prevent burnout, you may want to set boundaries with the knowledge that things will likely change. If you are a new caregiver, know you are not alone.
Marie E. Littrell is the Administrator of Park View Meadows, assisted living by Americare, in Murfreesboro. She can be reached at 615.907.5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.