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New to Family Caregiving? 10 Tips on How to Get Started

Advice and resources from experts and fellow caregivers

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Caregiving for a family member or friend may be one of the most challenging — and rewarding — jobs you will ever have. Here are 10 ways to get started on your journey.

1. Don’t go it alone

Being a family caregiver can be exhausting and intense; look to fellow caregivers to show you the way.

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2. Build a support network

Enlist family, friends and community members who are willing to assist with caregiving tasks. Accept offers of help and ask for what you need.

3. Make a budget

Family caregiving expenses can quickly deplete your savings. It’s important to create a financial plan and stick with it. Some states have programs that pay you for being a family caregiver or help pay for food and housing.

4. Talk early and often

Good communication with family, friends, health care providers and others in your network is key. Be open to using new technology for communicating to make family caregiving easier.

5.  Do a gut check

It’s OK to feel angry, resentful, frustrated or guilty; in fact, it’s common among family caregivers. Be open to talking with a mental health professional.

6.  Get paperwork organized

Organizing medical information and legal documents provides peace of mind, and it’s a real time-saver for when you need it on a moment’s notice.

7.  Know your limits

Although it isn’t easy, sometimes being a great family caregiver means knowing when it’s time to seek professional help to care for your loved one.

8. Build your skills

Whether you are employed or are a full-time unpaid family caregiver, the skills and responsibilities you’re taking on are real. Learn how to talk about your caregiving role with employers and prospective employers in a clear and professional manner.

9.  Take some time for yourself when possible

You are doing one of the toughest jobs in the world. Remember to give yourself credit and acknowledge your growth as a family caregiver and find ways to treat yourself when you can.

10.  Realize help is available

There’s a whole world of information and support available to family caregivers. AARP, United Way and 211 can help you find it.

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