It may have been expected or maybe broadsided you without warning. Mom has just received the official diagnosis for a progressive disease that is likely to make independent life a challenge. While there are a number of unknowns, one thing is for sure: she is adamant about remaining at home – meaning you’ll have some decisions to make about how to provide for the care she’ll need.
Welcome to the world of family caregiving! If you are feeling a bit stressed about what can be expected next, these recommendations will help:
- Learn as much as you can in regards to the disease. The older adult’s physician can provide you with resources and educational materials to help you know what to anticipate and to increase confidence in your family caregiving role.
- Get organized. Create a folder in which to save important paperwork: test results, prescription details, contact information for physicians’ offices and the pharmacy, and any other relevant medical information. Start a journal to help keep track of any changes in condition or concerns that arise, along with the details surrounding those changes.
- Put aside past hurts. A new diagnosis can cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unsettled issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, seek the support of a professional counselor to work through them.
- Determine boundaries together. Speak with the senior about how much and what kind of help could be beneficial. It’s normal to want to step in and take over, but it’s important for the individual to maintain as much control and independence as possible.
- Take proper care of yourself, too. Your own health and wellness are incredibly important. And, the amount of care you provide can be compromised if your own needs are not being met. Designate and prioritize time each day for self-care by seeking out and accepting assistance from others.
It’s important to know about the chance for caregiver burnout and depression, and to do something immediately, should you begin to experience the red flags, such as:
- Increased agitation, anxiety, and irritability
- Withdrawing from social interactions
- Lack of interest in once-enjoyed pastimes
- Lack of appetite
- Problems with falling or staying asleep
- Difficulty with focus and concentration
Identifying a reliable care partner provides you with time to see a physician for a checkup to rule out any other possible health concerns, to speak with a counselor to work through the many emotions involved with caregiving, and to relax and recharge.
The caregiving team at JFS Care is here with further resources for family caregivers, in addition to skilled, dependable respite care services that enable for a healthy life balance. Contact us online or call (213) 383-2273 for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our professional in-home care in Los Angeles. Please visit our Service Area page to see all of the communities we serve.