November 2, 2021

family caregivers

Learn how to care for someone with a new diagnosis.

You may have seen it coming, or it could have taken you by surprise. Mom has just been given an official diagnosis for a progressive disease that is likely to make independent living very difficult. While there are many uncertainties, one thing is for sure: she’s insistent about remaining at home – meaning you will have some decisions to make on how to provide for the care she will need.

Welcome to the world of family caregiving! If you are feeling a bit stressed with what you, as a family caregivers need to anticipate next, the following tips will help:

  • Prioritize organization. Create a folder in which to store important paperwork: test results, prescription details, contact information for physicians’ offices and the pharmacy, and any other essential 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.
  • Discover as much as you are able to in regards to the disease. The older adult’s physician can provide you with educational materials and resources that will help you know what to anticipate and to gain confidence in your caregiving role.
  • Establish boundaries together. Speak with the older adult about how much and what kind of assistance would be beneficial. It’s natural to want to step in and take over. Nevertheless, it’s essential for the older adult to maintain as much control and independence as possible.
  • Set 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, turn to the support of a professional therapist to work through them.
  • Take proper care of yourself, too. Your own health and wellbeing are equally important. And, the level of care you provide might be affected if, for example, your own needs are not being met. Prioritize and designate time every day for self-care by seeking out and accepting assistance from others.

It is vital to know about the possibility for caregiver burnout and depression and to act immediately if you start to experience the warning signs including:

  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Increased agitation, anxiety, and irritability
  • Resentment
  • Less interest in once-enjoyed pastimes
  • Issues with falling or staying asleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Challenges with concentration and focus
  • Exhaustion

Identifying a reliable care partner will free up some time to see the doctor for a checkup to rule out any other possible health issues, to talk with a therapist to effectively work through the numerous emotions involved with caregiving and to relax and recharge.

The caregiving team at Continuum, providers of private home care in St. Louis, MO and nearby areas, is available to give additional resources for family caregivers, as well as skilled, dependable respite care services that help ensure a healthy life balance. Reach out to us online or at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for a free in-home consultation to learn more.