10 Tips from a Former Family Caregiver


10 Tips from a Former Family Caregiver

(Editor's Note: I recently connected with Gloria Welch, who cared for her mom for 10 years. I asked her to share her best tips with you to help you manage the experience of caregiving.)

checked-295296_640Being a caregiver is a challenging job. I went from raising two kids by myself to taking care of my mom, with no break in between. I thought my brain was going to explode due to the overload of information. Life threatening decisions, at times, had to be made quickly. I needed something, anything to slow things down. An outline, a plan, a list!! Aha, a list--that's it!!!!

Here was mine:

1) First and foremost, know the situation will not last forever. It will end.

2) Here's a quote from my mom: "The best thing God did was make one day after another." In other words, take one day at a time.

3) Find support. All I had were my two teenage kids, my best friend and two cats who listened to my cries at night.

4) Always, always have at least two copies in your bag of: Healthcare proxy/power of attorney form, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), updated list of all medicines (name, dosage, times a day), insurance cards and a list with dates of any surgeries.

5) Always carry a little memo pad for quick notes. I was in a long line at the Medicaid office once and noticed a huge poster with the commissioner's contact info. I jotted it down, not knowing I would need it in the coming week.

6) Ask questions. If you are unsure, make the social worker, nurse, doctor, whoever it is, answer your questions in a manner that is simple and in plain English. Don't let anyone intimidate you!!

7) Have patience and understanding, the two hardest things to grasp, especially if your caree is being defiant and hates your guts. Just try to remember, your caree is scared and they doesn't want to be left alone.

8) Keep laughing. A sense of humor is a must. Laughing is great for the soul!! My mom would laugh when I showed up with "bunny ears" or " antler ears."

9) Share tasks. Nothing pisses off a caree more than not having any control over their own lives. I would get my mom's Social Security checks because she couldn't sign her name anymore. She was not a happy camper about that. So I got her involved with the handling of her money and the food list.

10) Be good to yourself. When you can, go out, spend time with friends, take walks. I used to give myself a little treat everyday like ice cream or a nice piece of chocolate or jelly donuts.

Throughout my ordeal, I prayed long and hard for guidance and strength. I know in my heart, I did my best and that's good enough for me.

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