Five Things Every Family Caregiver Needs to Know

1. Caregivers need to know their rights and understand their company’s benefits and policies.  They should check with their Human Resources department to learn if their company offers caregiver benefits. Caregivers need to understand how the Family and Medical Leave Act can help them. Typically, employers with 50 or more employees will comply with FMLA. Caregivers need to know that they cannot be discriminated against because of their caregiving role.


2. Caregivers need to know who can help them and how. They should familiarize themselves with professionals, such as geriatric care managers, homemaker agencies, who are helpful in finding resources and assisting in the care of their loved ones.  They need to seek help and information from family members, friends, and neighbors. No caregiver is an island and they will need help.


3. Caregivers need to know that they can and should set limits with family members and their carees.

Whether they set limits on their availability at work or the duties that they perform while performing caregiving duties, limits help everyone to understand what is and is not expected.


4. Caregivers need to keep good records detailing the caree’s needs, medications, treatments, likes/dislikes, and care tips. These are valuable when attending doctor appointments or when sharing caregiver duties with other family members or hired caregivers.


5. Caregivers need to have a back-up plan.  They should prepare themselves for all of the “What If’s?” that can happen as a caregiver.  They should seek the insights and feedback from family members, their friends, support groups, a geriatric care manager. The back -up plan should detail who will help with what and who is the replacement caregiver in the event that they are unable to perform their caregiving duties.


As you can see, there are many things that caregivers need know when they begin providing care services to their family member. While it can be a time of great turmoil and frustration, with some planning, they will be able to adjust to their new lifestyle with as few struggles as possible.