By Courtney Robinson, MSW
FiftyForward Program Manager
The journey of family caregiving is just that, a JOURNEY. Becoming a caregiver is the ultimate act of love and selflessness; however, caregiving is not without challenges, and caregivers need support. The reality is that the majority of us will likely take on a caregiver role at some point in our lives.
My family’s caregiving journey over the past few years evolved from long-distance caregiving from thousands of miles away to providing in-person, in-home care for my 97-year-old grandfather. Even though I am a social worker working with older adults and caregivers professionally, witnessing how my parents adapted to their new caregiving roles gave me a whole new perspective on the matter.
Our caregiving journey started gradually as our family began to pick up on signs that my grandparents needed more help than they were letting on. As long-distance caregivers, we did the best we could to put in place whatever support we could find and, just as importantly, support my grandparents would agree to accept. Last year, after a quick illness followed by the passing of my grandmother, we had to make new plans for my grandfather. The question became … what do we do now?
The decision was made that my grandfather would move to Nashville to be closer to my mom and dad. My mom and I spent days touring assisted living facilities in the area. Ultimately, we decided that we wanted to provide care in the home for as long as possible. We are fortunate that our family situation allows us to do that.
My message to family caregivers is that you are important, and you are doing the very best job you can (even if some days you don’t feel like it!). Here are some tips for caregivers from both my personal and professional caregiving experience:
- Remember to care for yourself! During times of stress, it becomes even more important to make sure you are tending to your own physical, mental, and spiritual health.
- Have the difficult conversations now. Talk about finances and healthcare wishes (including your own) early and often and share that information with others involved in your loved one’s care.
- Ask for help and find support! Have family and friends come together to discuss the care that is needed and take advantage of their offers of help. Ask for help if it’s not offered.
- Investigate community caregiver resources. FiftyForward Supportive Care offers a variety of services that support caregivers and could benefit your family.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide tools you need to take care of yourself. If you take good care of yourself, you will be better prepared to take good care of your loved one. As a participant you will learn how to: reduce stress, improve self-confidence, better communicate your feelings, balance your life, increase the ability to make tough decisions, and locate helpful resources.
Classes consist of six, 90-minute sessions held once a week on Zoom. Two experienced leaders conduct each class. Interactive lessons, discussions, and brainstorming help you take the “tools” you choose and put them into action for your life.
We would love to hear from you if are interested in participating or would like more information. Please complete the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P7HSFFS or contact Courtney Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or receive more information.