Written by Rick Lauber
Itinerary, passport, plane tickets, hotel reservations, camera, extra clothes … packing for a trip takes a great deal of planning. Becoming and serving as a caregiver for an aging parent, a friend, a child, or a spouse/partner can be a trip as well requiring similar planning. Having a set route to take also greatly reduces the anxiety and potential family squabbling.
Caregiving isn’t always simple for everybody. Family members must take on new responsibilities as caregivers, balance their own lives, and watch as someone they know mentally and physically weakens. Cognitively aware seniors may realize that they are losing their prized independence and must hand over much of that control to their children.
Taking preliminary steps, including the following, can help a caregiver plan and will make this process easier:
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
A caregiver’s emotions can change from day to day or even minute to minute. When Dad was in long-term care, I laughed, cried, felt frustrated and didn’t even know what to feel. Losing a family member (or even anticipating this loss) can be immensely challenging and rightly so—you are losing someone you likely care for deeply. To better manage, build yourself a strong support circle—the people you know, trust the most, and who will be empathetic to your situation.
Plan for Crises
If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it is that emergencies can happen. Knowing the future is impossible, but caregivers need to explore options as to how to respond if—and when— something unexpected occurs. A worldwide pandemic isn’t the only crisis to consider … a long- term care facility in St. Albert, Alberta (just north of Edmonton) recently went up in flames and all the residents had to be evacuated. A senior could fall and sustain a serious injury. A senior’s health could suddenly worsen.
Read the Will
Many difficult decisions may have already been made by a senior when they were better able to do so. Carrying out these requests can be intense but also comforting as family caregivers will not have to decide what might be best for a dependent adult who may not be able to decide what is best for them.
Rick Lauber is a former co-caregiver, a published book author, and an accomplished freelance writer. Lauber has written two books, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide as valuable resources for prospective, new, and current caregivers. He has also served as a voluntary Board of Directors member for Caregivers Alberta. www.ricklauber.com.