By Torie Temple

We play many roles within our lives, but when we’re cast as a caregiver for a loved one, it may take more preparation than just switching hats. Evelyn Hunter, facilitator for the Floyd Memorial caregiver support group, and Terry Graham, registered nurse at Helping Hands Companion Services, give recommendations to consider when stepping into a new caregiver role.

Find Resources
Educate yourself on the resources available within the community so you can find help at your fingertips. “First-time caregivers may not realize all the resources that are available to help with the caregiving process.” For example, they may not know the doctor can order physical and occupational therapy that can be given at home. The occupational therapist can also provide suggestions like which medical equipment would work best to make life easier.

Learn to Communicate
Take the time to learn how to communicate with your loved one despite any disabilities that might hinder his or her ability to communicate effectively. Hearing loss, vision loss, dementia, and stroke are just a few medical issues that can make communication difficult. Terry says patience is the key to communicating more effectively.

Understand the Stages of Grief
Most people associate grief with the death of a loved one. However, the stages of grieving can also be seen with the loss of someone still living. “Caregivers need to give themselves permission to recognize their feelings. They can be sad, irritable, or in disbelief as long as they recognize this as part of the grieving process and have others to talk to or a family member who can share the responsibilities,” Evelyn says.

Go to to read this article and find more caregiving tips. Today’s Transitions is a magazine for seniors and caregivers.