A diagnosis of cancer, alzheimer's, or other long-term medical conditions can be life changing, not only for the patient but for their family. Some family members will take on caregiving roles as a result. If you find yourself caring for a loved one, rest assured that you can provide good care for them while also taking care of yourself.
If you are new to caregiving, it’s important to educate yourself on the disease, treatment options and any potential side effects from treatments. Having this education will help you better understand the diagnosis, allow you to ask questions at doctor appointments that can help you in your caregiver role and it can help you and your loved one feel more comfortable making medical decisions.
Realize that everyone will respond to a diagnosis in different ways. Your loved one may or may not want to talk about their illness. They will also likely have good and bad days both physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s important that you follow their lead on whether to talk about their disease and be ready to listen to them and their concerns when they do wish to talk. Always remember that your loved one is in charge of their health and respect any decisions they make related to it.
Try to keep things as normal as possible. For example, as appropriate, it is okay to talk about things that you all might do in the future. It is also okay to continue to plan outings and events with your loved one. Let them tell you if attending a certain event is too much for them.
Just because you are the one providing care does not mean that you do not need support too. Ask your friends and family members to be part of your loved one’s caregiving team and remember to ask them to help with your loved one’s care. They can do anything from picking up medications at the store for you - to helping you with household chores - to sitting with your loved one for a few hours so you can rest or participate in an activity that you enjoy.
While there is a lot of physical and emotional stress on caregivers and their loved ones, take time to enjoy the person and be glad you are able to help out. Caregiving can provide you with time to build and strengthen relationships with loved ones and bring you closer to family members who are part of your caregiving team. Sometimes caregiving allows you to learn more about your family and its history. Caregiving will also teach you a lot about being flexible, multitasking, organization, empathy, compassion and love.
More information on caregiving is available at the Barren County Extension office. Join the Barren County Extension Service and the Alzheimer’s Association on Tuesday, November 19th for 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimers; strengthen your toolbox as a caregiver with this free lunch and learn event - Must call 651-3818 or 1-800-272-3900 to register.
Upcoming FCS Related Extension Programs
Nov. 19: 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Lunch and Learn(Free, call to register) noon-1 p.m. BCEO
Nov. 20: Cooking with the Calendar 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. BCEO
Nov. 23: BC Homemakers Annual Holiday Bazaar 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. BCEO
Nov. 28-29: Office closed for holiday