So you’re a caregiver – now what?

Note: This is a work in progress. Right now it doesn’t look like much and the information is overly general, but bear with me. This’ll take shape. I’ll accept comments and input right now, please.

Welcome to a world where you might have to make stuff up as you go. Caregiving has a huge learning curve, and resources are hard to track down. You might even think there aren’t any.

Classes:

Not much there. You’ll have to warm up Google to find something in your area. For sure, check out your local branch of the Alzheimer’s Association. If your area has an office on aging (usually city or county), check that out.

Maybe you’ll want to visit your local senior center. If the place has a senior advisor, that’s a good start. Also check any medical facilities or health care organizations in the area. You might find something through one of their outreach programs.

Taking care of yourself: Support groups

While you’re digging around for classes, you might run across a support group or two. If run well, these can be a real asset. Your best resource is other caregivers, and that’s where you might find answers to those questions no one thinks of: How do I get Mom to eat? How do I get Dad to bathe occasionally?

Taking care of yourself: Have some fun out of life

It doesn’t matter whether you have a full-time job someplace or not, caregiving blows up your work/life balance. It’s even worse when you relocated to become a caregiver.

At least take time to meet some friends, have some coffee, go to a ballgame, take a hike, play some music, or go dancing.

If there’s something you and your loved one both enjoy, then what are y’all waiting for? Take that long drive together, or break out the poker chips, or hit that restaurant you’ve both been wanting to try. Dad loved to socialize and listen to music as much as I enjoy playing it with friends, so it wasn’t exactly like doing KP or swabbing the decks.

But seriously. Have some fun out of life. Have a friend or family member take over for a few hours while you do something for yourself. A miserable caregiver makes a miserable caregiver.

If you’re totally stuck in a new area and know nobody, check out meetup.com.