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Early Planning May Ease Caregiving

Caregiving can be challenging and stressful for many people. Critical components to being successful is tapping into your strengths, and learning how to cope and manage the situation.

The Situation of the Caregiver

Ask yourself, “What does my personal care giving situation require of me?” Once you determine this you can begin to put a plan in place. A plan that consists of specific goals you set for yourself, and what it is that you need. Accepting help and support from anyone involved in the care receiver’s circumstances will be very important to your success and well being. You may find that reaching out for social support can reduce feelings of being alone and isolated. Sharing your burdens, experiences, and challenges with people you can trust can be very helpful. You may want to join a support group, or speak with a religious advisor, counselor or close friend.

Recognizing what you can and cannot change about your caregiving situation will help you to adapt to the condition of your situation and allow you to build confidence in your role as a caregiver. It also will save you time and energy because you will know what is and is not in your control. For instance, you may be struggling with accepting what you have learned about your loved one’s condition or disease, yet if you position yourself to be flexible and seek out opportunities to learn more about the specific health concern, you may find that your view and attitude is improved, and in turn you will be decreasing your own stress.

The Tough Decisions as a Caregiver

Holding a family meeting, with everyone involved in the decision-making process, including family, friends, and the person for whom the decisions are being made, is a great place to begin planning in advance. Some families choose to use a facilitator for their meeting; he or she may be a counselor, social service professional, or possibly clergy trained in family counseling. This person is helpful to keep the focus on the current issues at hand.

Talking about and making plans of needs may reveal additional help is necessary. You may find that professional support from a geriatric care coordination program may give you peace of mind while maintaining the safety and independence of your loved one. This type of support typically partners with the caregiver to coordinate care needs with health care providers, arrange in-home and support services, and make recommendations to help your loved one to be as successful as possible at their level of functioning. This would enable you more quality time with the one you are caring for as well as friends and family.

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide