It might have come completely out of the blue: an unanticipated fall that led to a fractured hip requiring Mom to have help and support at home after surgery. Or, it may have been building up over the years, such as through the slow and incremental progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Whatever the circumstances, you have now found yourself in the role of a new family caregiver, and maybe are wondering exactly what this means and just how to navigate these new waters.
First and foremost, take a good deep breath, and a minute to acknowledge the selflessness of your choice. Caregiving is a respectable and incredibly rewarding endeavor, but not without its struggles. A bit of proactive planning will go a long way towards an easier transition to care, both for yourself and your family member. A good starting off point is to consider how you would both prefer each day to unfold, creating a straightforward timeline to list out the daily activities and tasks which will need your attention. For example:
- 7 a.m.: Help Mom get out of bed, showered, dressed, and ready for the day
- 8 a.m.: Make breakfast and tidy up
- 9 a.m.: Take Mom to exercise class and/or physical therapy
- 11 a.m.: Run errands with (or for) Mom
- 1 p.m.: Prepare lunch and clean up
- 2 p.m.: Help Mom get settled set for afternoon activities: a film, nap, reading, puzzles, participating in a favorite hobby or pastime, etc.
- 6 p.m.: Make dinner and tidy up
- 8 p.m.: Help mom with bedtime tasks – a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc.
- 10 p.m.: Help mom get into bed
Your list will be different for each day, of course, but this offers a helpful guideline to let you know when you may have just a little downtime to yourself, and when you will need to provide hands-on help.
This is also an appropriate time to determine boundaries together – and to pledge to adhere to them. Again, these will be different for each person as well as on different days, but decide what is essential to each of you: having a specific time each day for self-care and personal time, when family and friends will come to visit, whether or not you intend to maintain a job outside of the home, etc.
As a new family caregiver, understand that Seniorcorp is always here to help as you get accustomed to your caregiving role to ensure you are also able to care for yourself – something that is extremely important to both you and a loved one in your care.