If you are new to family caregiving, you are probably facing some important life changes. You may feel overwhelmed, scared, or frustrated. You may also feel at a loss for what to do. These feelings are completely normal. The checklist below can help you learn more about your new responsibilities, the services and support options that may be available to you, and how to plan for the future.
- Know what you are up against and learn about the disease, condition, or injury affecting the loved one you are caring for: Do some research and get information from books, pamphlets, the internet, or other caregivers.
- Explore your options: Figure out what specific needs (meals, bathing, household chores, and doctor appointments) the loved one you are caring for will need.
- Research the resources in your community: Contact the Family Resource Center at 615-936-1990 for an individual consultation.
- Plan for immediate care: Keep track of the loved one's health and care needs. A log or journal of eating patterns, medicaton, and physical symptoms is the easiest and smartest way to go.
- Enlist the help of others: Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. You don't have to do it all alone and you shouldn't feel like you have to. Trying to do it all will eventually burn you out.
- Organize important medical and financial information: Write down doctor's names, phone numbers, and addresses. Keep handy the prescription numbers, names (brand name and generic, as available) and doses of all medications. Also, have the pharmacy contact information available.
- Plan for the future: Get information about the long-term prognosis. Knowing what you are facing will help you plan better for the outcome. Help the loved one you are caring for assess his or her finances.
- Take care of yourself, too: Talk to your family and friends and let them support you. Join a support group. Continue to do at least one activity or hobby that brings you pleasure and remember to take regular breaks from family caregiving. If you are overwhelmed, talk to your doctor, a therapist, or another health care professional right away. If you are an employee of Vanderbilt, contact Work Life Connections (EAP) at 615-936-1327.
As a new family caregiver, you are going to be facing a lot of challenges. This checklist is just a starting point, but you can find resources by contacting Stacey Bonner, Family Services Coordinator, at 615-936-1990.