Getting Started in a New Caregiving Role

elderly lady having tea with her daughter

Self-care and time to yourself are essential for success in any new caregiving role.

It might have come totally out of the blue: an unexpected fall that resulted in a broken hip and the requirement for Dad to have assistance to stay at home. Or, it may have been building up over time, such as through the incremental and slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Whatever the circumstances, you’ve now found yourself in a new caregiving role, and perhaps are wondering specifically what that means and just how to navigate these uncharted waters.

To start with, take a good deep breath, and a minute to recognize the selflessness of your decision. Caregiving is a commendable and extremely rewarding endeavor, however not without its struggles. A little proactive planning should go a long way towards a smoother transition to care, both for yourself and your loved one. A good starting point is to figure out the way you would both like each day to unfold, creating a simple timeline to record the daily tasks and activities which will need your attention. For instance:

  • 7 a.m.: Help Dad get out of bed, showered, dressed, and ready for the day
  • 8 a.m.: Make breakfast and tidy up
  • 9 a.m.: Take Dad to exercise class and/or physical therapy
  • 11 a.m.: Run errands with (or for) Dad
  • 1 p.m.: Prepare lunch and clean up
  • 2 p.m.: Help Dad get settled in for afternoon activities: a film, reading, puzzles, nap, participating in a favorite pastime or hobby, etc.
  • 6 p.m.: Make dinner and tidy up
  • 8 p.m.: Help Dad with bedtime tasks – a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc.
  • 10 p.m.: Help Dad get into bed

Your list will look different for each day, of course, but this provides a helpful overview to let you know when you could have a little downtime to yourself, and when you will need to provide hands-on help.

This is also an appropriate time to establish boundaries together – and to agree to stick to them. Again, these will be different for each person as well as on different days, but determine what is essential to each of you: having a designated time every day for self-care and private time, when friends and family can come to visit, whether or not you want to maintain a job outside of the home, etc.

Recognize that CareWorks Health Services, one of the leading caregiver agencies in Orange County and the surrounding communities, is always available to help while you adjust to your caregiving role with the respite care needed to make sure you are able to care for yourself at the same time – something that is vital to both you and the senior in your care. Reach out to us at (949) 859-4700 for additional information.