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How to Build Your Care Partner Team

People putting their hands in for a huddle
By Kathryn Parks

Often it is important to know that caregiving isn’t just an adult child caregiver with an aging parent. Caregivers can be the parents of a child that has a chronic condition, the parents or spouse of a veteran with a disability, or an older couple where one is caring for the other with dementia. Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes and can care for friends, family, neighbors, and individuals who also have a wide variety of ages and care needs. It is important to remember that every caregiving situation is unique, and there isn’t a cookie-cutter solution to every problem you may face. This concept is the first thing you need to know when building your care partner team because you will want people around you who are prepared to support you and your loved one. You will also want to include individuals with the appropriate knowledge and skills regarding the specific health-related issues that your loved one is dealing with.

Why Do I need a Care Partner Team?

Building a care partner team isn’t just about getting help; it is important to remember that it is more about expanding the circle of support that surrounds you and your loved one, and there can never be too much of that. Think about it this way, if you have children, are there ever too many people in their lives who love them, support them, and want to see them succeed?

Not likely. So, if you’re caring for someone else, there are never too many people in your life – or theirs – who love and support you both.

Here are just a few things to think about:

· Caregiver support is essential, whether professionally or through the support of your family, friends, and community.

· You may think you can do everything, or should do everything, or even have an overwhelming sense of responsibility to take care of everything, but you don’t have to do it alone.

· Caregiver burnout happens, even when you’re prepared, and it’s better to have a team supporting you before that occurs rather than after.

· The person you are caring for will probably have changing needs, which means that adjustments and flexibility will need to occur, and having a team helping you figure out how to make that happen is helpful.

Who Should be a Part of Your Care Partner Team?

Medical professionals, nurses, and hospital staff are always going to top the list of any caregiver’s team. Aside from the people you turn to when you need help medically, there are many places you can turn to for assistance.

· Your Loved One – remember, if possible, that your loved one should have a say in who is helping to provide care.

If they feel uncomfortable with someone assisting them, they will be less likely to participate in their care, so making sure that they are involved helps them feel as if they are in control and have an opinion that matters. This also gives them some dignity.

· Groups/Clubs/Organizations – perhaps your loved one worked with a group at church or spent their weekends working with their local American Legion post. Make a list of groups, clubs, and organizations your loved one participated in, then think about friends they may have there who would be willing to help. Even if that help is a ride once in a while, or maybe the church group can help organize volunteers to build a wheelchair ramp.

· Community Members & Neighbors – Sometimes, you will need someone who can just meet you where you are.

If you and your loved one have a neighbor or other community members who might be willing to stop by and make sure the trash bins are inside, it is one less thing you have to worry about. Don’t know the neighbors? That’s okay; you can still stop by the neighbor’s house and see if their teenage son can mow the yard when they mow theirs. Many little things add up to a big deal when your community and neighbors can help.

· Family & Friends – Lastly, make a list of other family members and close family friends who may be able to help. This list is usually the largest group of people to draw from but usually the hardest to ask help from. Try talking to each person in a one-on-one setting; it relieves pressure and helps people think clearly about how they might be able to help.

· Local resources – Government agencies also provide free resources and places to look for assistance.

Check out the eldercare locator to find specific offices in your area.

· Respite Care – Whether you have loads of friends, family, and neighbors to help or not, there may come a time, especially as your loved one’s care evolves, that you just need an extra set of hands to help run errands, do some light housecleaning, or take care of medications. Don’t forget that there are trained professionals who can help. Respite care has evolved as a profession. You can get assistance for a few hours or have someone on hand that is awake at night to make sure that your loved one stays safe. If you need more information, call Homewatch CareGivers of Annapolis, we would love to answer any questions you may have.

How to Ask Potential Care Partners for Help

Once you have a list of people you can ask for help, it is time to start talking to folks. The earlier you ask for help, the more likely you’ll have it when needed. Try to sit down one-on-one with each person on your list and talk about the situation you and your loved one are facing. Next, ask for something specific. It can be difficult to volunteer to provide assistance but easy to volunteer to complete tasks. If you need help with nightly dishes or weekly shopping, ask for these things specifically, and you’ll be more likely to get a “yes.”

Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Annapolis is here for you. Providing our clients with compassionate and professional assistance is always a privilege. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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