When your loved one requires help meeting their daily needs, you want to step up and ease their situation. You might help with shopping, home maintenance, bill paying, and other tasks.
In doing so, you now fit the definition of Family Caregiver, a person who provides unpaid support for a loved one who cannot meet 100% of their own needs.
But there are several mistakes family caregivers often make without knowing.
With foresight, you can avoid these accidental missteps and create a smoother experience for you and your loved one.
3 mistakes unwitting family caregivers make
Mistake #1 – Not talking with your loved one in advance about their plans and wishes.
Do this instead: make a point to know your loved one’s plans and wishes for the next chapter of their life.
For example, what are their thoughts about alternate living arrangements if they cannot live independently? What about estate planning? Have they designated a power of attorney? Do they have an advance directive? Have they created a will? Where are these documents located?
When you know the answers to these and other related questions, you’ll eliminate guesswork and be able to follow through on your loved one’s intentions.
Mistake #2 – Waiting for a crisis before acknowledging changes in your loved one’s abilities.
Do this instead: Pay attention to subtle shifts in your loved one’s abilities and functioning.
Has their eyesight changed, so they are driving with impaired vision? How is their sense of balance? Are they at risk for a fall? Are they getting behind on home maintenance and bill paying?
Rather than ignoring subtle changes, take note so you can preempt potential problems.
Mistake #3 – Trying to be a ‘Lone Ranger’ Caregiver.
As a loved one’s needs increase, some people are tempted to act as a ‘lone ranger’ caregiver by doing everything themselves. But taking care of a loved one can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining and result in caregiver burnout.
Do this instead: Adopt a team approach by involving friends and family members as much as possible. Accept a neighbor’s offer to pick up a few grocery items when they shop. Let Cousin Lou drive your loved one to the hairdresser. Ask a friend to pick up medication refills. You can also add paid caregivers and respite care to your team to assist when needed.
Being a family caregiver is both rewarding and challenging.
Being proactive lets you avoid common mistakes so you can be the caregiver for your loved one that you want to be.