Stepping up to serve as a caretaker for a family member is a major responsibility. It requires a lifestyle shift, and some careful consideration before you decide to take on this kind of commitment. Since November is National Caregivers' Month, here are a few things to think about before you step into the role of caregiver:
Make sure you have the financial and physical ability to provide proper care
Becoming a full-time caregiver will require you to assess your current lifestyle. Will you have the ability to step away from a full-time job in order to take care of your loved one? Would you be able to take leave and still get paid? Do you physically have the ability to provide the kind of care this person needs? Before you take on this responsibility, consider these questions. You should also find out what kinds of programs your company or your state offers.
Develop an agreement
Before you take on caregiving responsibilities, you might consider establishing an agreement between you and the person for whom you'll be providing care. It may seem silly, but you want to be sure that you're both on the same page about what, specifically, is expected of you.
Identify your support system
Providing care for someone else is very rewarding, but can also become both physically and mentally draining. It's important to identify and rely on your own support network to keep you inspired and feeling strong when you become a caretaker.
Lastly, it's important to know when to seek professional help as a caregiver. Even if you take on the bulk of the responsibility, you may want to have someone provide backup for you for a few hours each day so that you can handle your own errands, nap, or exercise. Self-care is an essential part of finding success as a full-time caregiver. For more details on caregiving, check out the National Alliance for Caregiving.
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who has contributed to publications and websites including The Charlotte Observer, U.S. News & World Report, American Way magazine, The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Thrillist, Thought Catalog, and others.