Getting Started: Identifying Your Caregiver Resources

When I first became my mom's caregiver in 2011 I was lost in the caregiving sauce! The doctors and neurologists at the time gave my mom her diagnosis and dismissed us from the office - they would just see us again in 6 months. No heads up or preparing for the challenging times ahead just a, "See you when we see you" type of exit. Suffice it to say, I left the office under-educated and overwhelmed.

Luckily, I found some great resources online that helped me navigate the world of caregiving and improve my skills as a new caregiver.

Let's explore some of the best resources I have used as a caregiver for over 10 years that helped me get me started in this role and enhance my skills.

Becoming an expert in your loved ones health

When you step into the role of a caregiver, it is important to grasp the basics to ensure you are giving the best care ever! It may (and probably will) feel overwhelming at first, but taking the time to master the ins and outs of caregiving will not only benefit your loved one but also supercharge you.

Some key things to focus on include learning about the medical conditions of your loved one. For me, my mother had early-onset dementia Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. I had to get a handle on her medications, treatment plan, and understand our lifestyle had to encourage a proactive approach to health.

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It helped me to do my own research about my mother's ailments by looking at sites like CDC and the New England Journal of Medicine. Once I had an understanding of her diseases, triggers, and symptom management - I felt more confident in my ability to care for her.

Finding support resources

In a world where the internet is right at our fingertips, it is no surprise I turned to online resources for everything! One great resource that helped me was the caregiving mommy blogs. They offered a wealth of information and some much-needed support from others who have 'walked in my shoes.'

Okay, let me explain that more, with being a mother or parent there is more understanding of how to juggle everyday life while caring for another. The mommy blogs gave me a sense of belonging and I also found some great tips on self-care.

Another valuable resource was the caregiver support groups. These were either online forums or in-person meetings where caregivers could share their stories, ask for advice, and find comfort in knowing that we weren't alone. It was always helpful for me to connect with others who were going through similar experiences. It helped me to feel seen and less isolated.

A community of care and connection

Before I knew it, I was rocking my caregiver role like it was second nature and began to chronicle it on social media. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a whole community of newbie millennial caregivers, who were also learning and discovering how to manage care for a loved one with dementia. I stumbled across this group of like-minded individuals on Instagram and TikTok and it was life-changing!

We had a space to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly without any judgment. It was a community of care and we shared our experiences, helpful resources and even some hilarious memes that helped lighten the mood during tough times.

Continuing education and skill enhancement

Caring for a loved one is not just about providing physical care, but also emotional support. It's important to continuously educate yourself on how to manage different aspects of caregiving such as communication, stress management, and coping mechanisms. When I began my role as a caregiver 12 years ago, a lot of information was not as easily accessible but today that has changed. Here are some online courses and resources that can help you enhance your skills as a caregiver:

  • The Alzheimer's Association offers free online courses on topics such as effective communication strategies, understanding dementia, and managing behaviors.
  • Caregiver Action Network also provides free webinars on various caregiving topics including self-care, financial planning, navigating the healthcare system and even a caregiving toolbox.

Whether you are new or have been in this role

Whether you are a new caregiver or have been in this role for years, remember that it's okay to ask for help and it's important to seek resources and support. Caregiving is a journey that you don't have to navigate alone.

There are many people out there who understand your struggles, and there are resources available to make your journey smoother. You are doing an amazing job, and the love and care you provide for your loved one is invaluable.

Keep learning, keep growing, and most of all, take care of yourself too. You got this!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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