Tips for First Time Caregivers

Caring for a family member or close friend can be a complicated role that you may not be prepared for. You may have stepped into the role because of an accident or illness and you have no idea what your first steps should be. Maybe you have obtained this role only a short time ago and already you are finding yourself taking more time off work than you expected and you are starting to struggle to keep up with your own life while maintaining your loved one's. At Elder Law of Omaha we understand the challenges and the responsibilities that can come with being a first time caregiver. We want to offer you tools to manage one of the most important but complicated roles you will take on.

# 1 – Form a Team and Ask for Help. You have your own life and trying to be the sole caregiver can lead to burn out, frustrations and stresses. It is important to create a large network of other family and friends that can help you. Once you have identified what you need help with, delegate tasks to your team. Make a plan with every detail and determine each other’s roles. Consider writing out the plan and distributing it to everyone so there is no confusion and everyone is on the same page.

# 2- Consider an attorney that specializes in long-term planning. At Elder Law of Omaha we have extensive practical knowledge in subject matters that a first time caregiver may not know. Depending on the kind of care that is needed, an attorney can help plan for Medicaid, create a will or trust or help with financial planning or other long-term planning.

# 3 – Start having the hard conversations now. There may never be a good time to plan for the future when it comes to another’s wishes and preferences for their health or finances, but if you wait too long your choices may be more limited and difficult to make. Make sure to listen and respect your loved one’s desires, even if they surprise you or you do not agree with them. If others need to be informed then this is a good time to do so.

# 4 – Care for your loved one. Every caregiving scenario is going to be different but there are a wide range of tools and resources that can help you along the way. Consider making yourself more comfortable and take a basic first aid training course. Ask to speak to the primary health care team so they know that you need to be informed. Ask about your loved one’s condition, treatment plans and medications they are taking and why. Lastly, stay organized. Keep all of your loved one’s important emergency information in one place.

# 5 – Care for yourself. Do not forget about your own needs. Eat right, get enough sleep and take time out for activities you love. First time caregivers can take on too much in the beginning and become too overwhelmed. In order for you to be a good caregiver you have to have the energy to do it. Caretaking can become very stressful so take time out and care for yourself.

At Elder Law of Omaha we offer a complimentary 30 minute consult to get to know you and your loved one. We will listen to all of your concerns and let you know if we can be of assistance. We welcome the opportunity to work closely with you and your loved one. Call us today at 402-614-6400.