When you are new to the role of caregiving it’s hard to know where to begin perhaps you’ve only recently realized that a loved one…

Try: When you are new to the role of caregiving it’s hard to know where to begin perhaps you’ve only recently realized that a loved one needs assistance and is no longer as self-sufficient as he or she once was or perhaps there has been a sudden change in a loved one’s health now it’s time to take action and take stock of the people services and information that will help you care for your loved one the earlier you find support and help the better here are some helpful steps to consider start with a diagnosis if your Care recipient (cr) is forgetful at times or has gone through a noticeable personality change take him or her to a neurologist or diagnostic clinic a thorough evaluation will rule out any reversible causes of dementia symptoms such as depression nutritional deficiencies reactions to medication or infection an early diagnosis of alzheimer’s disease or another disease that causes cognitive impairment has many benefits first treatment for alzheimer’s disease is most effective in the earlier stages and can buy more independence the cr second knowing the cr’s diagnosis can help you make realistic plans for the future learn as much as you can about the cr’s condition this information will confirm that you are not imagining things or exaggerating the cr’s behavior especially when you’re dealing with dementia – learning about the diagnosis will help you keep in mind that it’s the disease that is causing the cr to gradually lose control over his or her behavior many books videos and classes are available to inform you about what you can expect as the cr’s disease progresses talk with the cr about his or her finances and health care wishes if the cr is able to complete a durable power of attorney for finances and health care assist him or her in meeting with an elder law specialist to draw up these documents this planning can help relieve your anxiety and prepare you for the future it can also start important discussions with the cr if the cr doesn’t have the capacity to execute these documents you will need further legal advice to learn about your options consider inviting family and close friends to come together and discuss the cr’s care if possible the cr should be included in the meeting list the tasks that are needed so they can be more easily divided up let each family member discuss concerns as well as how much and what kind of help he or she can offer as the primary caregiver it’s best for you to accept whatever assistance your friends and family are offering even if it’s not exactly what you had in mind take advantage of community resources such as meals on wheels and adult day care programs these resources are available so that you don’t have to do everything yourself and also to give you a break you should also see if there are caregiver classes and workshops offered in your community your local caregiver resource center senior center community college or area agency on aging can be good options to check out these educational programs may help your self-confidence and make the time you spend caregiving easier for both you and the cr after all of this planning don’t forget to find support for yourself caregivers often feel isolated as they take on more responsibility and as their social lives move into the background a support group is a good place to meet other family caregivers who have really "been there – done that" you can participate in support groups in your community also on the internet information references adapted from an article from the family caregiver alliance

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Categories: Caregiver Needs&Support, Cognitive Intellectual, Emotional Psychological

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Keywords: Caregiver resources

*This information is listed as a Fact Sheet and is not explicitly medically licensed

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