Although caring for a loved one can be one of the most uplifting experiences you’ll ever have, it can also be one of the most physically and emotionally demanding. Ensuring that everything goes well while navigating through previously uncharted waters as an informal caregiver requires the ability to understand the challenges ahead and how to plan accordingly. What follows are seven things to remember when you suddenly find yourself thrust into the role of caring for another. 

Learn All You Can

First, educate yourself about your loved one’s illness, condition, or disease by speaking with their healthcare providers. What are their anticipated, specific care needs both in the short- and long-term? Collect all the information you can from books, pamphlets, and online sources. Are there any specific skills you may need to learn, for instance, how to communicate with someone who has dementia?

Form a Caregiving Team

Write down all the specific activities of daily living (ADLs) needs that your loved one has, such as bathing, transportation, meals, etc. Once you have your list, discuss ways to meet those needs with the care recipient, relatives, friends, and healthcare providers.

It is also essential to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Using a team approach, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others based on their time and talents – as a failure to do so could result in caregiver burnout.

Prioritize Immediate Needs

Depending on the immediate needs of your loved one, start recording in a log or journal their eating patterns, medications, and physical signs. While respecting their wishes, adapt the home environment for special needs like a walker, wheelchair, etc.

If other informal caregivers are involved, make a caregiving calendar based on each one’s time and talents. As the primary caregiver, you’ll also need to have an emergency plan in place if something happens to you.

Utilize Community Resources

Most communities offer services that support care recipients and their families. Start by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging. Investigate other resources, including adult day programs, meal delivery services, paratransit services, and professional home care. You can also contact organizations specific to your loved one’s disease or health condition, for example, the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Cancer Society.

Compile Essential Information

Organize your loved one’s financial information, including bills, loans, bank accounts, and insurance policies. Photocopy important documents like their social security card, driver’s license, and insurance cards. Write down their doctors’ names, addresses, and phone numbers, along with the medical names of illnesses, medical insurance information, prescription numbers, names, and doses.

Plan Ahead

Educate yourself on the long-term prognosis of your loved one. For example, if your care recipient has a terminal disease, they may need hospice care in the future. Assess their finances and speak to a financial advisor familiar with long-term care issues.

Talk to a lawyer about health care proxy, durable power of attorney, and related topics. If you can afford it, work with a geriatric care manager to help organize and facilitate family meetings and define clear expectations.

Take Care of Yourself

Most importantly, maintaining your loved one’s quality of life relies on your ability to stay mentally and physically refreshed. Be sure to practice self-care by:

  • Openly sharing your experiences and feelings with family and friends
  • Checking into your employer’s caregiver assistance program, if applicable
  • Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep
  • Joining a caregiver support group
  • Continuing to do at least one hobby that brings you pleasure
  • Taking regular breaks, or “respites,” from caregiving

Flexible In-Home Respite Care for Families in Naples, FL

Although it’s highly gratifying, caring for an aging loved one can also be overwhelming. Another proven way to meet their care needs is by hiring a professional in-home caregiver to assist them. Put your mind at ease by contacting the caring professionals from Home Instead® Senior Care. Conveniently available in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, FL, our senior care services help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home delivered with a human touch.

Our reliable in-home solutions help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support to stay safe and well at home. At Home Instead, it is always our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your family’s needs – bringing you all comfort, companionship, and peace of mind. To learn more or schedule a time to talk with one of our home care specialists, please visit us at