Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver

Key Word: FIND
Purpose: To learn what services and support you need and where to find them.

You have just begun to help care for someone, and it is occupying some of your time once or twice a week. You may be helping with bill-paying, running errands, taking your loved one to appointments, or supporting an in-home caregiver locate additional help. Direct hands-on care may be minimal at the beginning of this stage but become increasingly more demanding.

In Stage 1 you assessed the situation and gathered information. Now, you are going to choose your team and identify who will support and help you. It is very important that the caree be included in making these decisions, especially in identifying individuals who will be in the home providing direct physical care. Don’t be afraid to make changes if your first choice does not work out. You might learn that you are good at some aspects of caregiving and not at others. Continue to stay social and keep up with your hobbies for as long as you can.

  • Set up a free website at www.caringbridge.org. It is very user-friendly and it takes less than five minutes to create a website. Many families find this is a very useful tool to stay connected with friends and family.
  • A similar website that also has a mobile app and is useful to organize family and friends who want to help is http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/how-it-works/. You can request help with caregiving needs or errands, provide updates, and read notes that remind you that you are loved and not alone.
  • Build your team of support with the help of Share the Care. Friends are always offering to help but you don’t have time to organize this valuable resource. This is where Share the Care comes in. It is a website with a manual that relieves the burden you face of asking for help. It is organized and run by friends, not the caregiver or caree. The website is www.sharethecare.org.
  • Look for paid caregivers who may be of help.
    Video from AARP: Choosing an Agency for In-Home Care (2:14)
    http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/
  • Learn proper caregiving techniques from books or healthcare videos. The Caregiver College Video series is an excellent source to learn techniques to help with transfers, nutrition, dental care, bathing and dressing, toileting and incontinence, behavioral issues, and self care to prevent caregiver burnout.
    Transfer skills (6:19): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB0uPouIcXo
    Nutrition (6:53): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrNpX913KkE
    Dental Care (6:42): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFG1jtf6Zdg
    Bathing and Dressing (6:29) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvQtjY3-bcE
    Toileting and Incontinence (4:44) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DvYE12CM0c
    Behavioral Issues (7:18) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDOJxKxNKsI
    Self Care for the Caregiver (5:39) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi_gYDUfOKI
  • Watch paid caregivers as they provide care so you can do it when you are alone with the caree.
  • Home health services have strict guidelines on when their personnel can be available, the type of care that can be provided, and for how long.  Many families wrongly assume that home health care can be provided for as long as the caree needs assistance with dressing, bathing, eating, and walking. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and you need to plan financially  to hire someone to help or place your caree in an environment where someone else can provide assistance. What you are really needing is a homemaker. There are many local agencies that provide different types of care from companionship to assistance with hands-on care.  These services are on an hourly rate and vary from agency to agency.
  • Online or in person support groups can be helpful. There are several online support groups that you can explore to find the one that best meets your needs and your personality. Look for a list of local caregiver support groups at the end of this section.
  • Sign up for Meals on Wheels, collect menus from local restaurants that deliver, and make note of grocery stores that have prepared meals that you like.
  • Find a local medical equipment store (not just a pharmacy) that has safety equipment and devices that you might need. Make sure they deliver, install, and bill your insurance company. By visiting the store, you will get ideas. Here is a link to an online source for handy adaptive equipment that may be helpful. www.myspecialworld.net
  • If the caree is a Veteran, contact the local Veteran’s Administration, and determine if he or she qualifies for financial assistance such as the Veterans Administration’s Aid and Attendant Care Program. Additional information can be found in the Veteran section of this website.
  • Ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to come and give you respite so you can have a break on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Talk with your caree and reassess how the person feels about care and what would be most helpful for him or her.
    Start a communication notebook to be used by everyone on the team. Write down questions for professionals that may be coming in periodically. Paid caregivers, volunteers, and friends and family can read about what changes have taken place and write comments about their time with the caree while you were gone. Communication is very important, and a communication notebook becomes more and more important as you move through the stages.
    Hold family meetings. Needs will be changing and family involvement will be different during each stage. Learn how to use Skype for video chatting to include family members who may not live near by or who cannot be present in person. Each member of the family can be responsible for different aspects of caregiving so that it does not fall all on one person. In- home help, finances, meals, and caregiver support each could be the responsibility of different family members.
  • Computer technology can be a vital tool to access information and more importantly, to stay connected. Consider purchase of a Telikin computer which is designed for individuals who have limited to no computer skills. It uses a touch screen with one touch buttons for accessing email, the web, and video chat. Use this link to learn more and watch a video. http://www.telikin.com/?utm_source=SEM&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=NOTERM&utm_campaign=SEMSenior
  • Continue to support your healthy lifestyle by eating properly and participating in daily exercise.
    Prepare two bags that are kept packed (one for you and one for your caree) in case there is a sudden hospitalization. Make sure copies of your durable health care power of attorney and advance directives are in the bag, not in a bank deposit box. Include toiletries, pajamas, a change of clothes, a favorite book, crossword puzzle or Sudoku books, note pad and pencil, water bottle, healthy snacks, list of phone numbers for family and friends, and a list of last minute things to throw in (phone charger, your medications and those of your caree’s).

Step 3: The Entrenched Caregiver