Caregiver Tips



The ‘IRS of Caregiving’: Information, Respite, and Support (Part 1 of 3) Source:

Article written By Donna Schempp, LCSW



The first stages of caregiving are the most challenging. This is when you are least informed about what’s needed and expected, and when you feel the most insecure and uncertain.

  • In addition to information about the disease/disability your loved one is dealing with, you need to understand his or her medications and medical interventions. What knowledge/skills will you need to be able to care for him or her? Where can you get trained to do the tasks required? How can you learn to successfully:
    • Feed, bathe, groom, or dress someone?
    • Handle toileting or deal with incontinence?
    • Handle a complicated medication schedule?
    • Transfer someone or help them walk?
  • How does this disease progress and how will that effect the care receiver’s ability to take care of him or herself?
  • What are the care needs now and what are they likely to be in the future?
  • What are the physical limitations that the care receiver has now or will have?
  • What are the cognitive changes you can expect?
    • Are there predictable behavioral changes that go along with them?
    • How do I handle these changes?
    • If you are caring for someone with dementia, for instance, you need to learn the strategies for communication that will make you more successful and increase cooperation.
  • What is the financial situation?
    • How much money is available to help with care?
    • Who can access it (is there a Financial Power of Attorney in place)?
    • Are there debts or other constraints on using the money?
  • What legal matters should you know about?
    • Is there a Will? A Trust?
    • Has the Medical Power of Attorney been completed (also called Living Will)? Do you have a Release of Information signed and filed with the care receiver’s doctor(s)?

You might not be aware of community caregiving resources, but they are there to help you. You can find help in most communities for transportation, home delivered meals, day care programs, home repairs, and more. To learn about them, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and find out what’s available locally—not only for your loved one, but also for yourself. (In many communities, AAAs can be reached by dialing 211). There may be benefits that you haven’t thought about—ask about Title IIIE funding, part of the Older Americans Act specifically for caregivers. There may be Veterans benefits. Other benefits can be found at Eldercare Locator, or FCA’s Family Care Navigator.