The transition to becoming a caregiver can be gradual or sudden. If you have an aging parent or loved one, you should be prepared for either scenario. Get started with these eight important steps:
1. Talk with your loved one
Preparing to become a caregiver starts with asking your loved one about preferences for daily care. Is your parent or loved one comfortable with you becoming the primary caregiver? Is assisted living or skilled nursing an option? What about home care? Asking questions like these can ease your transition into caregiving since you’ll need your loved one’s help with many of the following steps.
2. Gather important documents
The time to learn where your loved one’s legal and medical documents are kept is before an emergency, not in the midst of one.
Here are some of the important details and documents you should have, or at least know where they are filed:
3. Coordinate with family members
Talk with your siblings or other family members who may help with caregiving. To avoid future conflicts, make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the care plan and how the costs will be managed. Knowing that you can rely on and confide in family members can ease stress.
4. Research the costs
Caregiving may impact your budget. For example, will your loved one move in with you? Will you provide transportation to medical appointments and other outings? Will a home care worker provide care while you’re at work?
Research the costs of providing care, and decide who will cover those expenses.
5. Define your limits
Every caregiver has a limit at which providing care alone becomes too much to handle. Set a limit for how much you can dedicate to caregiving (mental, physical, financial, etc.) and develop a plan for what will be done when you reach your limits.
6. Research local care providers
The time may come when you need outside help to care for your loved one. Plan for that day by researching senior services in your area. Make a list of assisted living communities, home care agencies, emergency response systems, home meal delivery programs and other local senior services.
7. Stay up to date
After you’ve taken the important steps in preparation for becoming a caregiver, stay tuned in with your loved one’s condition. This avoids surprises and keeps you prepared for the shift to caregiving.
8. Develop a care plan
As the time to begin caregiving nears, develop a plan. This can include coordinating with a physician to determine how much assistance your loved one requires, deciding if you’ll provide the care alone or with the help of a home care provider, and more. The plan can change rapidly based on your loved one’s condition, but a basic plan can provide a solid foundation for action.