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Eleanor’s guidebook for caregivers, One Caregiver’s Journey, is a must-read book for anyone new to family caregiving and wanting to start things on the right foot.

One Caregiver’s Journey by Eleanor Gaccetta is a definite read if you are either a caregiver already or about to become one. Drawn from the author’s life and experiences in family caregiving, taking care of her mother almost a decade before dying at the age of 102, One Caregiver’s Journey is a deeply personal and compelling story that vividly paints being a caregiver as full of laughter and tears. 

Eleanor’s guidebook for caregivers is a smooth and provocative read without the convoluted jargon of most books of this genre; written in a very candid voice that is more like a friend giving you suggestions and telling you this and that, One Caregiver’s Journey is wonderful, soothing and informative. 

New to Family Caregiving?

Even if you’re not currently doing family caregiving, there is still a need to prepare yourself. You see, family caregiving is not a role that is simply waiting for someone to take it. It’s something that, more often than not, creeps up on you and takes you by surprise. This is because family caregiving does not happen overnight, nor does it even happen quickly. It happens quite slowly, like a habit, that you gradually grow into, and—BAM!—the next thing you know, you’re already a caregiver, committed to taking care of someone else, and family caregiving begins to occupy a lot in your mind.

Here’s What You Should Learn!

The role of a caregiver is extremely varied. Depending on the caregiver’s relationship with their patient, whether they be a spouse, a child, a partner, a sibling, an aunt/uncle, a niece/nephew, or a grandchild, perhaps even an in-law, a friend or a neighbor, your scope of responsibility may or may not increase. This is why it is such an important thing to actually be fully aware of your responsibilities and identity as a caregiver and your role as one. 

When you accept your identity as a caregiver, you are more able to navigate your new role. Look for some resources on family caregiving here. 

Of course, a caregiver has other responsibilities outside of caregiving for family members too. While caregiving becomes front and center once it enters your life, you still have spheres of engagement outside of it–you need to so you don’t burn yourself out. 

A few caregivers are often, outside of caregiving, already in a position of providing care to others. A lot of them could be teachers, nurses, volunteers, etc. Even if some aren’t, the weight of taking up caregiving can become obviously frustrating and tiresome.

Most caregivers, though, do not come into family caregiving already with an idea of what they should be doing in mind; they do not come into things already trained and experienced with the broad range of responsibilities and skills that are needed. Here are some things you should consider to prepare yourself if you are to become a caregiver:

  1. Make sure that you receive a comprehensive diagnosis of your patient, i.e., your loved one, to better provide adequate care. This is also a way for you to properly get a handle on your patient’s condition, their medical history, their allergies, etc.
  2. Aside from the basics that all caregivers should have, learn the necessary skills that are specific to taking care of patients that have the same conditions as your loved one.
  3. Secure both your and your patient’s finances, what to do with broader healthcare choices, and other legal considerations like Powers of Attorney and more. Do not allow one family member to have full control over your loved one’s finances and ensure two signatures and agreement occurs whenever funds are withdrawn from an account. Do not allow one family member to have full control over your loved one’s finances and ensure two signatures and agreement occurs whenever funds are withdrawn from an account.
  4. Discuss with the broader family what to do with care, e.g., funds, resources, facilities, etc. This is to give you some breathing room for whenever emergencies happen, so you don’t have to circle around looking for whatever it is that’s needed.
  5. Keep everyone close up to date with what is happening with your condition and your patient. This is also to help you process things in a timely and orderly manner.
  6. Establish a support system that includes trusted friends and family, fellow caregivers, and reliable professionals. This helps prevent burning out and spiritual drain. 
  7. Look for available resources within the community to either offset financial expenditures or provide additional assistance.
  8. Do not ever believe you are alone in your journey.

Family caregivers often feel alone, but with the proper perspective and planning the journey can be less stressful.

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