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What questions should new caregivers ask?

What should you ask as you prepare to become a caregiver?

As a new caregiver, you'll have many questions about how you should get started. Consider the following to make sure you're prepared.

Have you considered all available options?

Have you thought about the choices you have other than being the sole caregiver? In-home care or residential care may be options depending on the level of care your loved one needs.

Have you talked to your loved one about his/her needs?

Talking to your loved one can reveal many solutions that you might not have considered. Keeping communication open will also make your loved one feel good about coming to you for help.

Who can help?

  1. Are other family members or friends available to provide care?
     
  2. Are there community services in the area?
     
  3. Does your loved one belong to any organizations or clubs, ie. churches, social clubs, etc.?
     
  4. Does your loved one have friends or neighbors who provide help?

What will your loved one need to continue his/her way of life?

  1. Will he/she need transportation or is he/she able to get around on his/her own?
     
  2. What is his/her daily routine, and what will you need to do to help him/her stick to it?
     
  3. What hobbies can your loved one not do alone?
     
  4. Does your loved one have any pets that will also need care?
     
  5. Does his/her living space meet his/her current needs? If not, will he/she need to move or have modifications done to his/her home?
     
  6. How far are you from your loved one?
     
  7. How will the help your loved one needs change in the future? 
     
  8. Does your loved one need medical care you’re not qualified to give?
    There will probably be aspects of your loved one's medical needs that you can't help with alone. Research in-home care options to find a medical professional that can get your loved one the attention needed.

How can you stay healthy while providing care?

  1. How do you feel?
    Don’t forget to ask yourself this. Being a caregiver doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to take care of yourself. In fact, the well-being of your loved one will often depend on you staying healthy and happy.
     
  2. Are you experiencing increased stress, sleep loss, or mood swings?
    A recent study by the Home Instead Senior Care Network shows that 31% of caregivers wish they had more help. If the demands of caregiving are wearing you down, research caregiver support or call your local Area Agency on Aging—find the number in the sidebar on this page—to discuss your options. 
     
  3. Can you maintain your quality of life?
    You'll have your hands full caring for your loved one, but don't forget to make time for yourself. Work with your family, friends, and your loved one to create a schedule that lets you keep up with the things you enjoy.
     
  4. Is it time to take a break?
    There are respite vouchers available to help caregivers take a break. Call your local Area Agency on Aging for more information about how to apply.
     
  5. Are you communicating your needs? Do your friends and family understand what you need from them?
    It can be helpful to ask for specific tasks to be performed. Often people want to help but don't want to intrude. Let them know exactly what you need them to do.
     
  6. Do you need medical attention?
    Caregiving can be demanding. Talk to a therapist or physician if you have increased stress, anxiety, or depression. The quality of care you can give depends on you being healthy enough to give it.

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