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Call today! 541-954-2602

Your Personal Senior Living Advisor

Serving Eugene, Springfield and outlying areas

Are You A Caregiver For A Loved One?

In response to this question, a daughter of one of my clients seemed dumbfounded. “What do you mean ‘caregiver’?” she asked me. “She’s my mom, I’m her daughter, that’s why I help her.”
True, this person is your parent. And if you care for a parent, you may not consider yourself a caregiver. Why? You’ve known them your entire life, you love them, and they’re decades older than you. In your mind, you are not her caregiver, you are her daughter or son.

My client’s daughter considered a caregiver to be someone she’d hire and pay for their services; in other words, caregiving was a profession. She didn’t consider her role worthy of the title “caregiver.”  She told me, “I’m just her daughter. I’d do what any family member would do when help is needed.”

True, she wasn’t a hired, trained, experienced caregiver, but she WAS a caregiver.

Do you do any of these tasks?
•    Help with shopping
•    Running errands
•    Accompany to doctor appointments
•    Help with house chores
•    Cook meals
•    Help with showers
•    Pay the bills

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If you do, you ARE a caregiver. You may not get paid, you may not always enjoy it, and you probably feel unprepared. But, if you feel that you have very little time to breathe, you are often in crisis mode, or that you have an extra full-time job, you ARE a Caregiver. 


Top Four Tips for Being an Effective Caregiver

Tip #1: Communicate Constantly
The three topics you dread the most talking about with your parents, are also the most important to discuss: living options, money, and driving.
•    When having a conversation, plan ahead. Take your time! Designate a specific time to talk; don’t do this on the run when you only stopped by for a short visit. 
•    Start the conversation with: “What do YOU think…?” or “What would YOU do if…?” And then dive in directly: “…if you can no longer take care of your own needs/ if your vision will go bad/ if I’m away on vacation, and something happens…”
•    Listen carefully to what is being said, both out loud and what you read between the lines. Responses like “I don’t want to talk about this” or “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there” may be hiding sensitive feelings: “I am terrified to consider the reality that  I could lose my independence.”
•    This is an ongoing conversation. Keep coming back to this discussion until a decision is made, even if it’s not the one you would choose.

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Tip #2: Be familiar with physical, medical, and cognitive care needs
•    Physical care: identify potential problems regarding dressing, bathing, toileting, and walking.
•    Medical care: know your loved one’s diagnosis, the medications they’re on, and who their health care providers are.
•    Cognitive issues: pay attention to changes in behavior like memory lapses, disorientation, and wandering.

Identifying the problems will help you in the process of finding the appropriate solutions.

Tip #3: Consult With Professionals
Although caregiving is not your profession, many professionals can help and support you in your role as a caregiver.
Professionals and how they can help:
Primary Care Provider (PCP): addresses all acute and chronic medical issues.
Occupational Therapist (OT): helps with home modifications for safety and can provide solutions for difficulties with ADL (Activities of Daily Living) such as dressing, bathing, or toileting. They are also able to help with cognition issues.
Physical Therapist (PT): helps with mobility and strength issues, such as preventing falls, properly using walking device, or developing exercise programs.

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Speech Therapist (SLP): helps with language or swallowing problems as well as cognition issues.
Social Worker (MSW): provides you with information on community resources and emotional support.
The services of OT, PT, SLT and MSW can be provided through Home Health or Outpatient resources.
Case Manager: A health care professional who can help you with identifying problems, finding solutions, creating a care plan, and managing the implementation of your care plan.
Senior Living Advisor: helps and guides you in finding the right care community when your parent is no longer able to live independently at home, such as when their care needs exceed your caregiving ability.
Therapist (Counselor): gives you the emotional support you need for yourself when confronted with difficult family dynamics or emotional stress.

Tip #4: Create A Care Plan
This goes hand-in-hand with tip #3: identifying problems and solutions, possibly with the help of professionals, is the foundation of creating a care plan. A care plan will help you be organize your focus, pull in additional support if needed, and be the effective caregiver you strive to be. You may need to use the services of the professionals mentioned earlier to help you with creating, implementing, and monitoring the care plan. Learn how to create an effective care plan Here.

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If you need help with applying any of those tips to your life as a caregiver, we are here to help you.
Call us at (541) 954 2602 or contact us at www.aHomeToFitYou

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