Becoming a caregiver is often a sudden reality for children. They’re tasked with stepping up and meeting their parents’ needs when their health starts to deteriorate. If you find yourself in this position and don’t know how to take on your new role, read through these tips for new home caregivers.
Keep a Daily Journal
To cut down on the overwhelming nature of daily life, keep a journal of what they do every day. A notebook or online record proves beneficial as you compile all their medication information, exercise logs, doctor’s appointment notes, and more. Particularly when your parents’ memory isn’t strong, a journal is a helpful tool for concretely recording what they’ve done so you can check later.
Be Thoughtful of Senior-Specific Hazards
One very important tip for new caregivers is to keep in mind little-known hazards that seniors encounter. For example, if your mother or father usually cooks for themselves but their memory is going, it’s more likely they will accidentally leave on a stove-top burner or other appliances. You can check them afterward or install automatic shut-off mechanisms to prevent a fire or other issues.
Another aspect you should think about is their technology use. In a technologically connected world, it’s easier than ever to deceive an elderly person over the phone or internet into giving away money or information. Keep tabs on their device use and be active about blocking phone numbers that seem like scams. Also, electromagnetic interference poses its own dangers. Be aware that EMI from cell phones and other electrical devices sometimes disrupts seniors’ sensitive and necessary medical equipment, such as their pacemakers.
Learn How to Effectively Communicate Their Needs
Your most important role apart from sustaining your parents is your advocacy for their needs. Make sure to keep careful records of their medical history, use your journal of daily activities to provide details to the doctor during appointments, and characterize your parents accurately. Though your days may be frustrating as you care for them, be intentional about your objectivity—health-care providers depend on you to know how to treat your mother or father. It’s also important to communicate well so other family members can get a good picture of how your parents are doing. Always remember that there is help. Rather it’s in-home care for a few hours to some social time at an adult day care center, to a short-term respite stay at a community, you deserve a break sometimes and these things are there to help.