Friday, March 28, 2008

Care for Caregivers Part II

Ask for Help

Your immediate assignment is to figure out what sort of support your loved one needs right away or in the very near future, and what services you, or possibly community agencies, can provide. That way, when you approach other family members for help, you can be very explicit about which tasks they might take on. And you may feel more comfortable asking for their help once you see just how much you're doing and what remains to be done.You'll need to assemble a caregiving to-do list. Experts recommend following these steps to organize the support you need:

Write down everything — including household chores, transportation, personal finances, and tasks of daily living (such as dressing and grooming) — with which your loved one currently requires assistance. Gather as much input from your loved one as she's able to provide.

Determine how often each task must be performed, getting as specific as you can. For example, your loved one may need a hand with mowing the lawn every week or paying the bills once a month.

Gather information about caregiving resources in the community, such as Meals on Wheels, transportation services, adult day care, and respite care. Remember that many agencies and organizations exist for the sole purpose of aiding caregivers like you.

"Contact just one office to start," Cavanaugh advises. "The person there can direct you to other places as necessary. You can make a lot of valuable connections with very little time and effort."

Once you know what various agencies and organizations can offer, go back to your caregiving to-do list, and mark which tasks they're able to take on, such as phone check-ins or grocery delivery. Be sure to keep contact information for everyone you've dealt with, in case you have additional questions once you've consulted your family.

Make plans to share your list with your loved one and with other family members and friends who make up her caregiving circle. This might best be done at a family meeting.

However you decide to move forward, you'll know you've done your homework, thoroughly researching community resources and all of the services they provide. You've done everything you can without your family's involvement. Now all of you must decide on your respective roles in your loved one's care.

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