Four Tips For New Adult Care Takers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been having interviewers ask Americans about how they spend their day since 2003, but in 2010 they started asking about a new activity: elder care.  They found that in 2011 between 22 and 23 percent of those ages 45 to 64 identify themselves as elder care providers, along with 16 percent of those over age 65.  There are millions of people around the country taking care of elderly family members and non-related loved ones, but transitioning to a care taker can be difficult.  Now you aren’t just responsible for yourself, your spouse, and your children; you’re now responsible for the health and well-being of a senior citizen.  It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and even confused about the best way to handle your care taking responsibilities.  You’ll be getting a lot of direction from doctors and other family members, but these bits of advice may make settling into your new life easier.

Take the time to think about if quitting your job is right for you

It isn’t uncommon for care takers to consider quitting their jobs so that they can care for their loved one full time.  If your finances can handle the lost income it seems like a good idea, but you should think about the future if you want to make a sound decision.  Would leaving work hurt your odds of finding work in the future?  Would your job skills still be needed in your field if you went back to work after several years of non-employment?  Would you still have insurance and other benefits if you left your job?  If quitting your job now puts your future in jeopardy, you should consider switching to part-time work so you can still maintain your career and have enough time to devote to care taking.

Budget and save carefully

Caring for another person doesn’t just take a lot of time; it also costs a considerable amount of money.  You’re now going to be responsible for paying for medications, doctor’s visits, and other living expenses and you need to find a way to finance your new lifestyle.  Take the time to carefully examine what your current expenses are, and determine what your new expenses will require.  Save money wherever you can, by buying medical supplies like catheters and diapers online, and see if you can cut your spending in other areas.

Be ready for a change in your relationships

Since you’re now a care taker to your elderly loved one your relationship with them may slightly change.  Keep the person you’re caring for in the loop about their care regiment, and show that you still see and appreciate them as your mother/father/family member/friend.  Make sure that your partner, children, and friends still have a place in your life by devoting some time to them.  Also try to take time for yourself every now and then by doing something you enjoy.

Be prepared to make changes in your care plan

Some people think that they have the perfect care plan mapped out, but are caught off guard when something happens to change it.  Life is full of changes, and you need to accept that there are some things you won’t be able to control about your loved one’s health and needs.  Be as accommodating to expected changes as much as possible, and feel free to take advice from others on the best way to handle changes.

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