Family Caregiver Alliance

Question: I've just started to take care of my mom after she spent some time rehabilitating in a nursing home after she fell and broke a few bones. I'm fairly overwhelmed with my new role. Do you have some suggestions for how I can make things better for myself?

Answer: I'd start by making sure you have the resources you need from the medical care system. Ideally, the facility's discharge planner should help you with this. Resources include home care with a nurse and physical therapist and, hopefully, a social worker and home health aide to help with bathing, etc., if that is needed. The physical therapist should teach you techniques to help you care for your mom, for example transfer skills. The nurse also should help you look at your mother's care and see what could be streamlined to make your job easier.

The social worker can help you access community resources, such as Meals on Wheels or paratransit to get her to doctor's appointments. If you do not have home care, then I would call your local Area Agency on Aging, or, in California, your Caregiver Resource Center, and ask them what services are available in your community. If you have family or friends nearby, it will reduce your stress if you could ask them to help you, whether to do some shopping for you, stay with mom while you do errands, or just be an ear to listen when you need someone to talk to. My last bit of advice: Don't be afraid to ask for what you need!

Top Tip

Ask simple, answerable questions. Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices. For example, ask, “Would you like to wear your white shirt or your blue shirt?” Better still, show her the choices—visual prompts and cues also help clarify your question and can guide her response.

Read More