It is easy for caregivers to focus only on the needs of their loved ones, often neglecting their own, especially new caregivers who may feel overwhelmed in this new role. However, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many resources are available to help and guide you through this uncertain time. In this blog, we offer advice and support for those starting their caregiving journey.
Research The Diagnosis
A great way to feel more comfortable navigating a new and uncertain situation like a loved one’s medical diagnosis is to begin researching how to provide the proper care and support. In addition, learning what to expect can help you recognize signs of illness progression and prepare for potential medical emergencies. Take the time to listen to physicians and ask specific questions. Consider attending caregiver support groups to see how others with a similar diagnosis experienced changes as their illness progressed. Lastly, planning conversations with your loved one about how they would like to improve their quality of life during end-of-life care is a great way to help your friend or family member maintain autonomy.
Check On Yourself
Caregiving can be a very emotional responsibility. If you’re feeling upset, sad, guilty, or angry, the most important thing you can do is take a break to unwind and practice self-care. Caring for your friend or family member will be more challenging if you feel burned out or unwell; therefore, prioritizing self-care will make your commitment to your loved one stronger for both of you. Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and give yourself regular moments to recollect and decompress.
Comfort Your Loved One
When someone is experiencing something new and complicated, like a life-threatening medical diagnosis, thoroughly listening to them is an excellent way to provide support. Listen to their concerns and let them know you are there for them. Regularly check in with them about how they are feeling mentally and contemplate ways to help keep them out of a slump. Consider filling their space with positive affirmations, reminders, and things they love. Flowers, photos of friends and family, and familiar artwork may lift their spirits even during a hard time. For additional tips on cheering your loved one up, check out our recent blog, where we provide advice on uplifting a loved one with a life-threatening illness.
We understand you may feel many confusing emotions as a new caregiver. Caring for a friend or family member with a life-threatening illness may be difficult, but knowing you’re not alone is crucial. Many resources are available to help navigate caregiving, including support groups, medical teams, friends, family members, and neighbors. To learn more about life as a caregiver, check out our blogs. We cover topics like “How To Be A Caregiver While Employed, “ “Caregiving For Your Spouse,” and more.