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Caregivers are people who assist others who need help. Caring for a family member or friend in not easy, nor is it something most of us are prepared to do. It doesn’t matter how many hours per week are spent providing support, being a family caregiver is hard work.

About Caregiving

Caring for someone with a serious illness can affect every part of your life.  Caregivers may experience new and unfamiliar thoughts, emotions, develop spiritually-related questions or concerns, or notice physical changes to their bodies.

Learning about being a caregiver may help one provide the care his/her family member or friend needs and also help him/her care for the self which is very important. 

A few of the areas that are important for family caregivers to be aware of include the following areas.

Planning Ahead

Knowing and understanding a loved one’s wishes and priorities will be important as his or her illness progresses; advance care planning is a process to help specify wishes and make them known to others. For more information, review our Planning Ahead Checklist.

Getting Organized

Keeping track of the many responsibilities of caregiving can be daunting. Organization can help caregivers care for a loved one or friend and maximize the amount of quality time spent together. Being organized will help balance all the other responsibilities. As a caregiver, making lists can be a helpful way to keep things in order. Here are some suggestions for lists that can help.

Home Safety

Caregivers may be caring for someone who lives in his or her own home, or they may be a resident in an assisted living center or nursing home.  Sometimes, family members or friends move into a caregiver’s home in order to get the care and support he/she needs.  Most peoples’ homes are not designed for caregiving and some changes may be needed to ensure the comfort and safety of all who live there. Learn more about making a home safe.

Caring for Someone in Pain

It can be difficult to see a loved one in pain and caring for someone in pain is not easy.  When one is in pain, it can be difficult to focus on anything else; pain can affect every part of life. Learn more about living without pain.

Providing Care

Caregivers provide support to someone who needs assistance.  It doesn't matter how many hours per week are spent providing support.  Caring for a family member or friend is not easy, nor is it something most of us are prepared to do.  Read more about being a caregiver.

Caring for the Caregiver

Caring for someone – no matter how many hours a day – can be exhausting.  It is very important that caregivers remember to care for themselves!  

Advance Care Planning

Knowing and understanding a loved one’s values and wishes will be important as his or her illness progresses and as caregivers assume responsibility for making decisions for them. Advance care planning is the process that allows one to make decisions about the care he/she wants to receive if it is not possible to speak for oneself. Advance directives are tools that enable people to write down their preferences on a legal form and appoint someone to speak for them if they are no longer able. A living will, healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and a plan for funeral arrangements can help ensure peace of mind.