Do you need support with everyday tasks? Including things like getting out of bed, getting to the bathroom, showering or bathing, help with getting dressed, organizing or taking medications, cooking or eating? You are a care partner!
Are you helping someone with these and/or other supportive tasks? If the answer is yes, then You are a caregiver!
Creating or expanding your Circle of Support (people and/or services that are available to help you) can literally save your life.
Each situation is different. As a caregiver myself, I know balancing caregiving responsibilities and everything else in your life can be very challenging. At first we may think we need to do it all-but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many family members and caregivers start out their caregiving journey suddenly and feel alone but it’s good to know that you can create and expand a Circle of Support for both of you.
So how do you get started? How can you create or expand your Circle of Support? Here’s five easy steps to get started.
1. Make a Specific List of What Help You and Your Family Member Need: Include respite (breaks from caregiving), time for self-care, and fun. You need time for yourself so you can care for your Family member to the best of your ability.
2. Reach Out and Find Out: Who can do what? Can a neighbor bring in your mail? Can Aging Services give you in-home care referrals? Can a Senior Center help get your Family member to lunch and activities with others? Can you get meals delivered? Can someone call with a joke on Wednesdays? Or send a funny card once a month? There are services and organizations that do all of these things and more. Expanding your Circle of Support is easier once you connect with resources.
3. Ask for and Accept Help: This is often the most difficult step. We may feel we are the only one who can do things the right way or we are shy about allowing others into our situation. Remember, the best thing you can do for your own and your Family member’s quality of life is ask for and accept help.
If someone offers help, be ready to accept. Say: “Yes Thanks!” and give these wonderful folks a specific way to help like: “Could you visit with Mom on Friday morning so I can go for a walk (or take a nap!)? or bring your famous spaghetti for Wed night dinner?
If no one offers-research and recruit! If you or your Family member can afford it- hire help. If not, research free and low cost options for help. Contact your church, Senior Center, family, friends, and neighbors and/or go to: WashoeCaregivers.org and AARP States. There are many free or low-cost resources listed on both of these sites.
4. Plan for Fun: Yes, we’re mentioning it again. It’s very important to schedule something fun for yourself (momentary or otherwise) daily. Your mental and physical health and quality of life for you and your Family member depend on it!
5. Develop Relationships: Yes, you’re busy and there doesn’t seem to be time for anyone – including yourself. But developing relationships (personal or professional) helps you create or expand your Circle of Support. We call this a win-win-win. Good for your Family member, good for you, and good for the people who participate in your Circle because it is a good feeling to be able to assist.
AARP Nevada Executive Council