Family Caregiver Tips to Help a Loved One Navigate a New Diagnosis

It may have been presumed, or perhaps broadsided you out of the blue. Mom has just received the official diagnosis for a progressive disease that’s going to make independent life challenging. While there are lots of unknowns, one thing is for sure: she’s adamant about remaining at home – meaning you’ll 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 can be expected next, these family caregiver tips can certainly help.

  • Learn as much as you possibly can about the disease. The senior’s doctor can provide you with resources and educational materials that will help you know what to expect and to gain confidence in your caregiving role.
  • Get organized. Create a folder to save important paperwork: prescription details, test results, 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.
  • Put aside past hurts. A new diagnosis may cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unresolved issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, turn to the support of a professional therapist to effectively work through them.
  • Develop boundaries together. Speak with the individual about how much and what kind of assistance could be beneficial. It is normal to want to step in and take control, nevertheless it’s vital for the older adult to maintain as much independence and control as possible. 
  • Take care of yourself, too. Your personal health and wellbeing are incredibly important. And, the level of care you provide can be affected if, for example, 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 is critical to be familiar with the risk for caregiver burnout and depression, and to take steps immediately if you begin to experience red flags such as:

  • Increased anxiety, agitation, and irritability
  • Withdrawing from social interactions
  • Lack of interest in once-enjoyed pastimes
  • Resentment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Issues with falling or staying asleep
  • Difficulty with focus and concentration
  • Fatigue

Finding a dependable care partner provides time for you to see a physician for a checkup to rule out other potential health concerns, to speak with a counselor to work through the countless emotions involved with caregiving, and also to relax and recharge.

The caregiving team at Seniorcorp is here with further resources for family caregivers, in addition to skilled, dependable respite care services that allow for a healthy life balance. Email or call us at 757-640-0557 for a free of charge in-home consultation to learn more about our award-winning Chesapeake home health care. For a full list of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.