Becoming a caregiver for an older relative can be a role that evolves over time or can happen quickly due to a crisis. All caregivers question how to be an effective caregiver as their loved one’s needs change. It is important to take the time to honestly assess your situation, and don’t wait for a crisis to do so.
Part of being an effective caregiver means having a true picture of the caregiving situation from both your perspective and that of your loved one.
Assessing your loved one’s overall situation
Achieving a workable balance between caregiving and all your other responsibilities, while providing adequate care to your loved one, is the goal.
Caring for an older adult requires involving them in all decisions about how and where they live and whether to seek help from others – to the extent they are mentally capable of making such decisions.
Here are some questions to help you assess your situation.
- Has there been a change in quality of life for your loved one over the past months or last year? For example, are they able to get out and be social with friends? Has he or she stopped engaging in a favorite hobby? Is driving a problem?
- Can he or she manage housekeeping and doing laundry independently?
Has there been a change in functional abilities? For example, hearing, eyesight or walking unassisted. Do they now need to use a cane or walker?
- Can your loved one take a shower independently? Are there any signs of memory loss?
- Is your loved one able to manage their medications? Taking medications as prescribed can be critical to your loved one’s overall health.
- Can they keep up with paying the bills and other financial matters?
- What is your greatest concern at the moment in caring for your loved one?
How to be an effective caregiver
- How has caregiving impacted your work performance over the past couple of months?
- Are you distracted at work? Have you consciously questioned if you can continue to work the schedule you have?
- How much flexibility do you have with your work schedule?
What level of trust do you have with your immediate supervisor?
- Are you comfortable talking about your situation?
- Have you explored what services your employer may offer through an employee assistance program?
- Has your spouse expressed concern about your caregiving and its impact on the rest of the family?
- Has caregiving impacted your responsibilities for your children?
- If you are the primary caregiver, how much support are other family members providing? Are they aware of the current situation?
Completing a thorough assessment of your situation may present you with a list of information and resources to track down.
Whether you need assistance now or see a need educate yourself for the future, help can come from three areas: family, workplace resources, and senior resources that exist in the community.