Your first step after diagnosis is to take time to talk. If you will be taking over responsibilities from your family member, make sure you know what is involved. Make a list of bills which need to be paid monthly, get computer passwords, write down the kids’ schedules, insurance information – anything you will need in the next few weeks.
You can serve as your loved one’s advocate at physician appointments. Start a notebook for paperwork. Make a list of physician addresses and phone numbers. Set up a section for each physician treating your family member. Include notes from appointments, questions you have for the physicians and notes from phone calls – including who you spoke with. Add a billing section and include physicians’ statements, along with the amounts paid by insurance and personal payments.
Give your loved one a break to spend time with friends, go for a walk or just read a book. Everyone needs some alone time.
Taking care of yourself is important. Spend time with friends, enjoy a favorite hobby or watch a movie – whatever you enjoy. Use a friend as a support person for yourself, sharing thoughts and feelings or attend a caregiver support group. If you need help with your responsibilities, it’s okay to accept help from friends and family.
One final word – sharing your time, love and support is a gift you are giving your loved one.