Adjusting to Suddenly Becoming a Caregiver

Health changes in our loved ones often occur without warning, which leaves family members scrambling to enter caregiver mode.

New caregivers must adjust to vastly different daily routines immediately, without time for meticulous planning or a road map to guide them.

While suddenly becoming a caregiver is a stressful, life-changing event, there are ways to prepare, plan, and cope for the challenges ahead.

We’ll share tips for crafting a new routine with your loved one, including asking for help and taking time for self care.

How to Create a New Caregiver Routine

Whether you are a spouse, child, or other close family member suddenly entering a caregiver role, you may feel lost in a new world of decision-making, planning, and processing.

First, it’s important to take a step back and breathe. 

Of course, there are going to be plenty of urgent actions to take in the coming days, weeks, and months. But if you currently do not have a care plan for your loved one, now is the time to quickly craft some goals and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

Write out the answers to the following questions as a way to guide your new schedules and routines:

  • What are the next steps? This may include doctor’s appointments, moving your loved one into your home, or asking for some time off work to get settled.
  • What decisions are you being asked to make immediately, and who can support you in finding those answers?
  • Who will be a part of your care team? Think of which other family members or close friends you can consult or ask for help with daily tasks.
  • What do you need to be successful?
  • Know your limits: What are you unable to provide? What do you excel at?
  • Which parts of your own routine do you need to be adamant about resuming for your own balance and peace of mind?

These questions will help you get organized and focus on what you can control. 

Once you have your answers, consult with your family to determine who will help with which tasks, and what your loved one’s new routine will look like.

Prioritize Self Care

Remember to keep your self-care habits a priority, even if they become shortened or adjusted. These habits and routines will keep you feeling a sense of normalcy and ensure you are staying healthy.

Sudden caregivers often get swept away into their new role and begin to neglect their own health needs. This leaves them subject to caregiver burnout, which can lead to more serious health issues.

To stay healthy so you can be the best version of you, consider these self-care basics:

  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Find a method of stress relief, including breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, or prayer
  • Keep in contact with friends and family for laughs and support

If you unexpectedly became a caregiver and have been neglecting your care, it’s never too late to start incorporating healthy habits once again. The stress of caregiving can make it hard to cope, but even small steps toward self care can make a huge difference.

Tips for Preparing your Home

Oftentimes, it works best for mom, dad, or a sibling you are caring for to move in with you once you begin caregiving. Even if you are caring for a spouse, these tips can help you make adjustments to the home.

Prepare a Living Space

Start by arranging a simple, comfortable spot in the home for your loved one to spend most of their time. Keep the area clean, well-lit, and free of clutter. Feel free to hang up a few pieces of art or decorations from their home to make it feel familiar.

If stairs are an issue, consider installing ramps or stair lifts inside and outside the home to accommodate your loved one.

Inspect for Safety

In the bathroom, install grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet to assist with sitting and standing, and place anti-slip grips on the floor and in the tub. You also may choose to add a shower chair for the tub.

Walk through the home and inspect for basic safety features. Do you have a first-aid kit? Are all smoke detectors and fire extinguishers working? 

Performing these steps will provide peace of mind and a sense of preparedness.

How to Ask for Help After Suddenly Becoming a Caregiver

For many people, asking for help is difficult. 

It may bring up feelings of failure or insecurity, and those who strive for independence may truly not be sure how to ask for help.

When you become a caregiver, you must protect your time and energy as much as your loved one’s. If you are not able to care for yourself, it will become very difficult to provide good care to someone else.

Looking at caregiving with that perspective may encourage asking for help, because you are not just doing it for yourself, but to be the best help to your loved one.

By preparing a plan for yourself and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, you can more confidently ask others for help because you fully understand your limits and capabilities.

What to Do if Caregiving Becomes Too Much

Despite our best efforts, there may come a point when caregiving becomes too much physically, emotionally, or even financially. Especially if the role of caregiver was put on you suddenly. That’s when we can enlist the help of other services.

Sometimes, in-home professional nurses or caregivers can provide needed relief and assistance. Other times, an assisted living community is the best choice.

The Kensington Redondo Beach is an assisted living and memory care community dedicated to the highest levels of comfortable, loving care. The Kensington difference is our ability to provide a full spectrum of clinical support.

This means that those with all care needs are welcome, no matter how their needs advance over time. We offer rehabilitation services, a full calendar of activity options, and above all, a Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.Reach out to our team today to learn more about the expert care we will provide to your loved one.

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