Millennial Caregivers: So now you're a caregiver?
I'm sure we've all had a moment, or two, or three+ where we say,"if I knew then, what I know now." It's what we say after we've told someone about our challenges in full detail, and how we now know there was an easier/better way to handle the situation. Knowing better is really the inspiration behind this post. Today, there are roughly ten million millennial caregivers and although some of them may have a handle on this role and know what resources are available, there are so many others who are completely confused and have no idea of where to start. Ten million is a wild number, considering many millennials are still in their mid twenties. Some of these individuals may not even recognize that they are a caregiver or what they should know about being a caregiver. So, I'm going to share some information that I came across, all while keeping this post short and sweet. Let's get to it!
What's Considered a Family Caregiver?
Would you ever consider picking up someone's groceries, cleaning around a person's home, or taking an individual to different doctor's appointments on a consistent basis as being a caregiver? If you don't, think again. Oftentimes people perceive a caregiver as someone who is providing intense assistance or care, but a lot of times it starts off as simple tasks. Caregiving can sneak up on a person and before he/she is aware, simple tasks have turned into a full blown commitment of taking care of a loved one. It helps to know the complete definition of what a family caregiver is. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, a family caregiver is "any relative, partner, friend or neighbor who has a significant personal relationship with, and provides a broad range of assistance for, an older person/an adult with a chronic/disabling condition." It can be challenging for people to identify as a caregiver, but knowing the definition of the term can bring them one step closer to recognizing/acknowledging their role.
Where Do I Start?
One of my professors used to tell me "research is your friend." That ain't nothing but the truth! However, for some people, research can be challenging when it comes to knowing what to search for, or what it is he/she really needs to know. This can lead to frustration, anxiety, and discouragement for a person who is just stepping into the role of a caregiver. Thank God I stumbled across a page named Our Turn 2 Care, which is a platform that provides information, resources and support for marginalized millennial caregivers. There's so much information on this website and it meets the needs of beginners, as well as those who have been in the caregiving game for a minute.
Our Turn 2 Care has an Ultimate Caregiver Checklist that provides a list of things you should know about your loved one when providing care. Throughout this checklist there is a reminder to breathe, which is my favorite part because the list of things you should know could become overwhelming.
Here's a few things I pulled from the Ultimate Caregiver Checklist:
Be sure to read everything on the list and bookmark their website!
Ask about important documents (Living Will or Advance Directive).
Get a Power of Attorney.
Locate/Request all medical records.
Create binders for each physician, along with emergency contacts, etc. - this helps remain organized.
Other Ish You Should Know
In addition to the list provided by Our Turn 2 Care, there are other things that I believe we should keep in mind when it comes to caregiving:
1. Keep track of any passwords to financial banks, insurance companies and other service providers (Don't let them bills stack up and you know nothing about it).
2. Caregiver support groups on a local, state, national level (always remember you are not alone, even in moments where it feels like you are).
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You never know what people are willing to help with, until you ask. ("You have not because you ask not." -James 4:2)
The More You Know
I've spoken with several millennials who have mentioned their fear of one day having to care for their parents and not knowing what to do. It is my hope that this post provokes thought and that you save the information. Keep in mind that caregiving looks different for everybody and always remember that YOU GOT DA JUICE! (You got da juice = you're the bomb; you're the ish; you got this)
Additional helpful links:
The National Alliance for Caregiving
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the latest episode of Real Homies Wanna Know, that The Dementia Guru and I recently did for National Family Caregivers Month. She and I are going to be working all month long to bring awareness to millennial caregivers.