The Caregiver's Guide

As a caregiver, you may find yourself facing a host of new responsibilities, many of which can be intimidating. Learn how taking charge can make you a better caregiver.

The Caregiver's Guide

As a caregiver, you may find yourself facing a host of new responsibilities, many of which can be intimidating. At times, you may feel overwhelmed and alone. But despite its challenges, caregiving can also be rewarding. And there are a lot of things you can do to make the caregiving process easier for both you and your loved one or client. These tips can help you get the support you need while caring for someone else.

Fortunately, you don't have to be a nursing expert, a superhero, or a saint in order to be a good caregiver. With the right help and support, you can be a good caregiver without having to give up on your own needs.

1. Gather Information 

Being armed with knowledge may help you accommodate your client’s needs and put you at ease because you know what to expect with their care. Ask your doctor what they recommend for your client and research what method of care will help the most. 

2. Don't Try to Do It All

Even if you’re the primary family caregiver, you can’t do everything on your own, especially if you’re caregiving from a distance. You’ll need help from friends, siblings and other family members, as well as health professionals. If you don’t get the support you need, you'll quickly burn out – which will compromise your ability to provide care.

But before you can ask for help, you need to have a clear understanding of your family member’s needs. Take some time to list all the caregiving tasks required, being as specific as possible. Then determine which activities you are able to meet. The remaining tasks on the list are ones you'll need to ask others to help you with.

3. Take Advantage of Community Services

There are services to help caregivers in most communities, and the cost is often based on ability to pay or covered by the care receiver's insurance. Services that may be available in your community include adult day-care centers, home health aides, home-delivered meals, respite care, transportation services, and skilled nursing.

Call your local senior center, family service, or hospital social work unit for contact suggestions.

4. Have a Game Plan 

A common feeling among caregivers is uncertainty. It’s hard to know what the future holds. While planning may be difficult, it can help. Try to schedule fun activities on days when your client is not feeling the side effects of treatment. You can also give yourselves something to look forward to by planning together how you will celebrate the end of treatment or a portion of treatment.

Planning for a future in the long-term is also important and can be increasingly stressful for a caregiver when sometimes, two futures are being planned. You can ask your client if he or she needs, or wants, assistance. It is in everyone’s best interest that you begin this process sooner rather than later. Having essential paperwork under control will allow you to have peace of mind.

5. Do What You Can

Even seasoned caregivers find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of appointments, daily errands and medicine doses. No one can do everything. It’s fine to acknowledge your limits. Come to terms with feeling overwhelmed, and be firm when deciding what you can and cannot handle on your own. WIth the help of others and working together with your client, you may find yourselves moving mountains.

Want to know how to look marvelous without splurging so much? Dr. Oz invites three beauty experts to share the smartest ways to save money while looking fabulous starting from your hair and makeup tools to the beauty products you use.