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When a family member or friend falls ill, enters an advanced age, or gets injured, they may need support and care to maintain quality of life and independence. Someone who steps in to help with these tasks is officially considered their, “caregiver.” At the beginning of your journey as a caregiver, you may understandably start to feel overwhelmed. There are a lot of things to do, learn, and consider, and things are likely to change over time. If “overwhelmed” accurately describes how you’re feeling, let us help to put your mind at ease. Here are the first things you should do at the beginning of your caregiving journey.

Things to Do At the Beginning of Your Journey as a Caregiver

  1. Identify as a caregiver.
    Most caregivers don’t recognize themselves in that term. Here’s why we hope to fix that: “caregiver” is an official term, and you won’t be able to find many of the local, community, or government resources available to you without it.

    The term “caregiver” encompasses anyone who provides physical, emotional, financial, or logistical support to someone with a disabling condition. If you’re unsure if you fit the definition, take the “Am I a Caregiver” Quiz by clicking here.
  2. Get a Good Diagnosis.
    Taking the time to get a good diagnosis will help you understand where your loved one is at now, as well as where they could be as time passes. This will help you prepare for your role as a caregiver and allow you to learn as much as you can.

    By learning, you can anticipate what’s ahead as their condition changes. Instead of feeling worried and uncertain, you can prepare. You can take time to ask questions, prepare the home for changes in physical ability, find resources to help when and if the workload expands, etc.
  3. Learn the Skills You’ll Need.
    Too often caregivers are placed in a situation where they’re performing complicated tasks that they have no prior training to do. To avoid this, talk to your loved one’s medical team, support groups, community organizations, or other non-profits (such as your local Caregiver Resource Center) to find out what else you should know and ask for help with learning the skills you’ll need over time.
  4. Keep Watching to Learn More.
    The video linked below from Valley Caregiver Resource Center provides step-by-step instructions to help you start your journey as a caregiver. Give it a watch and let us know what questions you have.

If you provide regular care to your loved one, we are here for you. As a caregiver, you’re faced with new challenges every day. The California Caregiver Resource Centers are a network of eleven independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations across California. They were created with you both in mind and at heart to be a free resource as you navigate the challenging role you’re in. We would love to connect you with your local Center, where they can talk more about local programs for caregivers, answer your questions, and explain how they can best support you.

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