Adjusting to Life as a Caregiver

A guide on what to expect when you first become a caregiver.

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When you first become a caregiver, having many new responsibilities can be daunting. You might have to adjust from working full-time to becoming a full-time caregiver, you might have to balance a full-time job and caregiving, and you might have children that you also need to care for. Here is some advice for adjusting to becoming a caregiver and going through the transition as smoothly as possible!

Make sure you spend time learning about your loved one’s condition. The more you know, the better prepared for caregiving you will be! Look into caregiving organizations like the National Alliance for Caregiving, Family Caregiver Alliance, Ontario Caregiver Organization, and Carers Canada and organizations specific to your loved one’s condition like the Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer’s Association and Dementia Friends.

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It’s easy to feel like you have to do everything for your loved one because they are ill. Many times, this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s very important to allow the person you are caring for to be as independent as possible. Your loved one may have certain hobbies they enjoy and most likely, they still want to live life on their own terms. Allow your loved one to be involved in decision-making and to do things on their own if they are able to.

Sometimes a caregiver isn’t able to take on caregiving alone. It’s okay to ask for help from family and friends, or even look into in-home care or assisted living if necessary. A professional caregiver can be helpful if your loved one lives alone or if you can’t leave work early on certain days to help your loved one make dinner. Maybe you need someone to help cook and clean. It’s important to be realistic about what you can commit to so you don’t spread yourself too thin and overwhelm yourself with tasks.

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No one wants to deal with legal paperwork, but you shouldn’t wait to address these important issues. You never know when you might have to act on your loved one’s behalf and make decisions for them. Get legal documents ready for emergency situations and for the future. This will help to avoid problems if or when the court needs to appoint a guardian to make decisions.

Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one! Don’t neglect diet, sleep, and exercise. All of these things are important in order to maintain good health and avoid caregiver burnout. According to the National Institutes of Health, informal caregivers tend to be less likely to fill their own prescriptions and get regular health screenings like mammograms. Self-care may also involve speaking to a professional or seeking support groups in person or online.

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Becoming a caregiver is much less scary when you know what to expect. Usually when a person is prepared, they tend to feel less stressed when difficult situations arise. Even though caregiving can seem overwhelming at first, it can also prove to be very rewarding. The takeaway: make sure you are prepared, deal with things head on and make sure to get some me time in the process!

Are you a new caregiver? Check out the Memoryz app on the App Store and Google Play today! Memoryz supports families experiencing dementia through our task reminders, mood check in feature and digital caregiving community, which provides self-care ideas and activities.

Download Memoryz on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.memoryz.app

Download Memoryz on the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/memoryz/id1506838838

Visit our website to learn more about the app: https://www.memoryz.co

References:

Collins, S. (2018, August 7). What to Expect as a Caregiver. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/what-to-expect-as-a-caregiver#2.

What to Expect When You Become Your Loved One’s Caregiver. Visiting Angels. (2017, November 17). https://www.visitingangels.com/knowledge-center/family-caregiver-support/what-to-expect-when-you-become-your-loved-ones-caregiver/290.

Aiming to redefine the standard of dementia care.