Caregiving 101: Knowledge and Preparedness Key to Success

All of us can count on the fact that we will need care giving or be called upon to be a caregiver at some point in our lives. Yet most of us don’t want to think about it. As a result, it takes us by surprise when Dad has a stroke, or Mom breaks a hip, a spouse is diagnosed with cancer or when we learn we have multiple sclerosis—and we find ourselves unprepared. Some are able to scale the care giving learning curve with minimal stress and error. More often than not, however, the lack of preparedness and knowledge creates high levels of tension and results in harm both to the person receiving care and to the caregiver.

Imagine having a baby without any preparation or mentoring. That seems almost inconceivable in today’s world of pre-natal care, lactation and parental counseling and the numerous books and websites available to educate new parents about how to care for a newborn. Yet we routinely put off acquiring the information we need to be good caregivers to our own detriment and to those we love. I believe that if we prepare ourselves to be good caregivers, care giving can be much more effective and become as rewarding an experience as parenthood.

Indeed, we must acknowledge that disease and injuries that cause short-term or long-term incapacity are a natural part of life. There are many things we can do to prepare for these eventualities such as executing a will and health care and property powers of attorney—and insisting that our spouses, partners and parents do the same. However, when we are faced with the actually of having to care for someone we need to know more.

Although was created to help consumers understand and evaluate long-term care providers, we must recognize that most caregiving for older adults is provided by family members at home. Throughout this year, I plan to write about how to navigate family care on this blog by addressing questions like the following:

  • What information does a family caregiver need to have in order to provide the best care possible for the person they love?
  • How does a family caregiver get the information they need?
  • What kind of training exists for family caregivers?
  • How does a family caregiver find out if there is training available where they live?
  • What tools will help a family caregiver develop a plan of care for their loved one and for themselves?
  • What resources are available to help a family caregiver?
  • How does a family caregiver find the resources they need?

It is my hope that the answers to these questions will make the practice of caregiving less burdensome, more effective, and ultimately fulfilling, resulting in better care for ourselves and loved ones.

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