Caregiving often creeps up on you. You start by dropping by your parent's house and you find yourself doing little things to help; laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, scheduling their doctor appointments, and refilling prescriptions. Gradually, you are doing more and more. Suddenly, you realize you have made a commitment to care for someone else.
Becoming a caregiver can happen instantly, triggered by a major health event such as a stroke, heart attack, or accident. It may also start gradually as you start to realize that dad’s memory lapses have become dangerous. Life as you know it changes. Caregiving has become your new career and you adjust to a new normal. It is imperative to know that you don’t have to do it alone.
Most individuals find it difficult. Responsibilities can range from personal care, medical decisions, legal matters and financial responsibilities. Most of us find it difficult to ask for help. Statistically, 50% of caregivers get no outside help and 75% of caregivers are women. Information and training are available, reach out to your local area agency on aging (Riverside County Department on Aging) and local support groups. Make a list of the things that you need help with and keep the list on hand when someone offers to help so that you can easily share your needs. Little things on a regular basis mean a lot. One of the most important things to remember as a caregiver is that you must take time to care for yourself.