Senior Providers Blog

Getting Started: How to Become a Family Caregiver

Posted by Senior Providers Network on Jan 18, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Family CaregivingDo you have an elderly or ill relative who requires special home care? If there is no one available to give this care, you may find yourself having to step into this important role. Learning how to become a family caregiver is a process that requires a great deal of time and patience. However, there are family caregiver resources that you can draw from in order to make your transition into a full time caregiver more productive and less stressful.

Responsibilities of the Family Caregiver

Very few plan ahead on what to do with aging parents. But when an adverse event occurs it seems like we only have minutes to figure things out. The family caregiver is akin to being the CEO of a company. That person has to make the decisions on behalf of the elderly loved one with the understanding on how the senior would make decisions if they were in the right capacity to make decisions. It is a job that is both rewarding, stressful and unpaid.

What are the Benefits of Becoming a “Primary” Family Caregiver

The “Official” Primary Family Caregiver is an unofficial title but applies to the person that is handling the day to day of caring for a senior loved one. As the point person, you will have the right to get up-to-date info about the condition of your family member's health.  You will also be the advocate on behalf of your aging loved one, to make decisions that is in their best interests.

What are the First Steps to Becoming a Family Caregiver?

There are certain steps that you need to take in order to become an official family caregiver. The first will be to learn everything you can about the condition of your family member. The next step should be to find out exactly what your relative's insurance will and will not pay for. The more info you have concerning the precise extent and limits of their coverage, the better. You will also want to contact their primary care physician and other medical specialists who care for them under the terms of their insurance plan.

You'll Need to Create Legal Documents for Your Position

Your next step should be to officially establish your position as a caregiver in legal terms. If your relative is able to do so, they should sign an advance directive and health care proxy. This will give you the legal status you need to make decisions on their behalf without being subject to challenges from other family members or outside parties.

You will also need to get your relative to give you power of attorney so that you can handle their financial affairs. This will become very important if your relative should reach a state where they are no longer able to handle their own finances or pay their bills.

Make Sure to Draw on All of the Available Resources

There are many national and local resources that you can draw upon to make the transition to becoming an official caregiver much easier. We’ve covered excellent organizations like the Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Family Caregiver Support Program.

You can arrange for adult day care, respite care, services such as Meals on Wheels, and even some limited financial assistance. Please read our blog post on how to become a paid family caregiver for help with the important financial side of providing home care for a relative. These are all important services that will help ease the burden of being a caregiver. It's also an excellent idea to get other family members involved in sharing the responsibilities of caring for a relative. 

Contact the Senior Providers Network for Employee Benefit Assistance

Even with all of the legal legwork sorted out, you may still be having a great deal of trouble in adjusting to your role as an official family caregiver. If you are employed, there are employee benefits that could be provided to employees to assist them.  Contact us for more information on eldercare employee benefits. 

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Topics: Family Caregiver