In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, I wanted to acknowledge the millions of family members who care for their parents, siblings and children.
Being a caregiver is one of the toughest jobs, and the most rewarding. To make it even more rewarding (and more effective), try to remember the old saying: you can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.
The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent.
If you are helping care for a family member, here a few tips for caring for yourself first:
- Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone!
- Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
- Accept offers of help. To make that help even more effective, suggest specific things people can do to help you.
- Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
- Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
- Watch out for signs of depression. Don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.
- Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
- Organize medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find.
- Make sure legal documents are in order.
- Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!
What’s the 11th tip for caring for yourself as a caregiver?
#11. Bring in the experts.
When the role of family member crosses over to caregiver, the list of tasks can get more than overwhelming.
Bring in an objective expert — in nursing, senior living options, home downsizing, real estate, staging, financial and legal questions, and estate consolidation, to name a few — to simplify the process.
Need a local resource for experts in senior living? Talk to folks at your local Senior Center (here’s a list of senior centers in Connecticut). Or refer to the great AARP Caregiver Local Resources Guide.
My Work with Seniors
As a downsizing and home staging consultant, I have worked successfully with family caregivers to ease their stress through the arduous process of moving a parent out of home.
I can help all of you feel good about transitioning from home to assisted living by:
- listening and spending time with your family member, hearing their concerns and worries.
- providing you and them with resources to ensure their beloved possessions get good homes, and don’t end up in the dumpster; and
- ensuring their antiques and collectibles are appraised by the right experts.
Ready for help downsizing?