How to Be the Best Family Caregiver for Someone with a New Diagnosis

caregiver talking with senior lady

Be the best family caregiver you can be with these tips from our home care experts.

It may well have been suspected, or maybe broadsided you without warning. Mom has just received the official diagnosis for a progressive disease that is going to make independent life a challenge. While there are a number of unknowns, one thing is for sure: she is insistent about remaining at home – meaning you’ll have some decisions to make about how to provide for the care she will need.

Welcome to the world of a family caregiver! If you are feeling a bit stressed with what to anticipate next, the following tips can certainly help.

  • Discover as much as you’re able about the disease. The senior’s physician can provide you with resources and educational materials to help you know what to expect and also to increase confidence in your family caregiving role.
  • Get organized. Create a binder to keep important paperwork in: prescription details, test results, contact information for physicians’ offices and the pharmacy, and any other essential medical information. Start a journal to help note any changes in condition or concerns that arise, along with the details surrounding those changes.
  • Put aside past hurts. A new diagnosis could cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unresolved issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, turn to the support of a professional therapist to work through them.
  • Develop boundaries together. Speak with the person about how much and what sort of help could be beneficial. It is normal to want to step in and take over; however, it’s essential for the individual to maintain as much independence and control as possible.
  • Take proper care of yourself, too. Your personal health and wellbeing are incredibly important. And, the degree of care you provide might be affected if your own needs are not being met. Designate and prioritize time every day for self-care by seeking out and accepting help from others.

It is critical to know about the possibility for depression and caregiver burnout, and to do something immediately if you start to experience warning flags including:

  • Increased anxiety, agitation, and irritability
  • Withdrawing from social interactions
  • Less interest in once-enjoyed activities
  • Resentment
  • Lack of appetite
  • Issues with falling or staying asleep
  • Difficulty with focus and concentration
  • Fatigue

Finding a dependable care partner will provide you with time to see the doctor for a checkup to rule out any other potential health concerns, to talk with a therapist to effectively work through the numerous emotions involved with caregiving, and to relax and recharge.

Harmony Home Health & Hospice, experts in home and hospice care in Albuquerque, NM and nearby areas, is here with additional resources for family caregivers, as well as skilled, dependable home health care services that can improve quality of life for both care recipients and caregivers. Contact us at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322) for for more information.