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Do you currently provide unpaid help to an adult friend or family member who has a chronic condition or disability? Does your friend or family member have a cognitive impairment? Does your friend or family member need help with two or more activities of daily living (ADLs)?

Working as a caregiver for an elderly or disabled family member is often new territory for many caregivers. Your local Caregiver Resource Center is here for you: you are not alone

Caregiver Resource Centers are in place to provide services to support you, the caregiver. Connect to your local Caregiver Resource Center as soon as possible to take advantage of the wealth of information, knowledge, networking and resources available.

Caregiver Resource Centers Offer Free Support to Caregivers

Your local Caregiver Resource Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the wellbeing of caregivers throughout California. California is the first state in the US to establish a statewide network of support organizations for caregivers. Every California resident has access to a CRC and a breadth of services.

Top tips for New Caregivers

This list of tips from Caregiver Action Network is a great resource for new caregivers. You can even print it out in a colorful version!

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone!
  2. Take care of your health so you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you
  4. Learn how to effectively communicate with doctors
  5. Caregiving is hard work, so take respite breaks often.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one
  8. Organize medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best job you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

Getting Started as a Primary Caregiver

Becoming a caregiver for an elderly or disabled family member or friend is a major change for both the caregiver and the care receiver. This transitional time, as you ease into a new role can be confusing, stressful, overwhelming and sad.

As a Caregiver, you are performing an integral role in society, and the Caregiver Resource Centers are here for you, every step of the way! To help you get started on your caregiving journey, here are recommended first steps, adapted from Family Caregiver Alliance.

  1. Take your loved one to a specialist for a diagnosis.

If you’ve noticed changes in your family member’s behavior and have concerns that it may be time to intervene to support their care – the best place to start is with a medical professional. A neurologist or diagnostic clinic will be able to provide a diagnosis and clear care plan. Armed with knowledge, you will have a strong foundation from which to educate yourself and develop a realistic plan for your loved one’s care as their disease progresses.

Early diagnosis of a cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s disease will allow you to begin early treatment. Early treatment is more effective and can delay the progression of the disease. The more time you research and prepare for the eventual progression of any disease, the more resourced you will be as a caregiver for your loved one.

  1. Discuss your loved one’s financial and health care wishes

Talk with your care receiver to get clarity on their end of life wishes. Get their financials sorted, take over responsibility for bills, arrange a meeting with an elder law specialist to draw up documents like a Durable Power of Attorney for finances and health care.

If your loved one does not have the capacity to execute legal documents, seek out legal advice to learn about your options.

  1. Collaborate with family and friends on the care plan

Bring your family and close friends together with your loved one to discuss the care plan and collaborate together. Review all the tasks that must be completed as part of the care plan and see who is willing to offer support to help lighten the load of caregiving. Be sure to discuss any concerns or questions that family or friends may have.

  1. Research & Utilize available Community Resources

There are many resources available in our communities to support the elderly. Meals on Wheels, adult day care programs, senior centers and more are in place to support elder care. You don’t have to do everything yourself! And the Family Caregiver Resource Center has many education classes and workshops available to help you feel more prepared for the role of caregiver. Check out our offerings here (link to offerings)

  1. Take Care of YOU

As a primary caregiver, you may begin to feel isolated as you take on more and more responsibility for your loved one’s health and wellbeing. Our support groups (link to) are a great way to connect with other caregivers and resources that can help you manage your personal health and wellbeing while you serve as primary caregiver to your loved one.

The Caregiver Resource Centers exist to support you, caregivers! Connect with your local center to take get support in your caregiving journey.

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