November 3, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille


You may have had your suspicions, or maybe it blindsided you. Mom has just received a diagnosis for a progressive disease that is going to make independent living a challenge. While there are lots of questions, one thing is for sure: she is determined to remain at home – meaning you’ll have some decisions to make about how to provide for the care she will need. You may decide to take on a new role as the family caregiver for your mom.

Welcome to the world of family caregiving! If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with what can be expected next as a family caregiver, these strategies can certainly help:

  • Get organized. Make a folder to keep important paperwork: test results, prescription details, contact information for doctors’ offices in addition to the pharmacy, and any other essential medical information. Start a journal to help track any changes in condition or concerns that occur, as well as the details surrounding those changes.
  • Establish boundaries. Talk with the person about how much and what type of help would be useful. It is natural to want to step in and take over, however it’s important for the senior to maintain as much control and independence as possible.
  • Put aside past hurts. A new diagnosis can cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unsettled issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, turn to the support of a professional therapist to effectively work through them.
  • Learn as much as about the disease as you can. The aging adult’s physician can provide you with educational resources that will help you know what to expect and to increase confidence in your family caregiving role.
  • Don’t forget to care for yourself, too. Your own health and care are just as important. And, the degree of care you provide may be compromised if, for example, your own needs are not being met. Designate and prioritize time each day for self-care by seeking out and accepting help from others.

It is important to be familiar with the risk for depression and caregiver burnout and to take steps immediately in the event that you begin to experience warning flags including:

  • Withdrawing from social interactions
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of interest in once-enjoyed hobbies
  • Increased agitation, anxiety, and irritability
  • Resentment
  • Problems with falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with concentration and focus

Finding a trustworthy care agency will provide you with time for you to see the doctor for a checkup to rule out other possible health concerns, to talk to a counselor to work through the numerous emotions involved in caregiving, and also to relax and recharge.

The caregiving team at At Home Independent Living, a leading Syracuse in-home care company, offers further resources and services to help family caregivers find a healthy life balance. Contact us online or at 315-579-HOME (4663) for a free of charge in-home consultation to find out more. Please visit our Service Area page for all of the communities we serve.