Your first day being the primary source of care for a family member is much like your first day of a new school year probably was when you were growing up – riddled with anxiety and doubt. They’re not situations you can do a lot to prepare for, and they’re emotionally challenging.

We applaud you for your courage in accepting the challenge of caring for a loved one, and we offer you these six tips as a first-time caregiver to help your journey down this path go smoothly.

Tip #1: Encourage independence

Though you’re now providing some elements of their personal care, an adult aging at home should be encouraged to do as much as they can for themselves, as long as it’s safe for them to do so. By allowing them to perform some of their daily routines, they’ll feel more independent, and it will take some of the pressure off of you.

As time passes, they may be relying more on you to help them with day-to-day activities, but keep encouraging them to do what they can.

Tip #2: Learn First Aid

There may come a time when immediate medical attention is required.  You’ll find first aid and CPR classes available through local organizations, including the American Red Cross. Putting this off is easy to do, so hop online or make a call and get scheduled today.

Tip #3: Use technology when you can

There are many tools available that will help you as a caregiver:

  • GPS technology to tell you your loved one’s exact location
  • Apps that help you track medical appointments, health records, insurance information, and more
  • Medication reminders that alert you when your senior has forgotten to take a prescription
  • Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) allow your loved one to press a button and summon help in case of an emergency
  • Wireless home monitoring systems that alert you in case of an emergency or when something unusual has happened, like a senior not leaving the bathroom for an extended period of time

Check and see if some of these can be paid by your loved one’s personal health insurance, long-term care insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Tip #4: Educate yourself

The more you know about any physical or mental disorders your loved one has, the better. It