Caregiver Confidence

Don't Be Afraid to Make a Mistake
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One of the difficult parts of eldercare is that most of us have little training or experience with it. That's why many family caregivers find themselves terrified of making the wrong move or a wrong decision that will make things worse for their loved one.

These three rules of thumb can help bring peace of mind:

1. A well-intentioned decision is usually a good one.

Why this is smart thinking: Good intentions tend to be backed up by love and caring. There's seldom a "perfect" decision or absolute "right" answer when it comes to most aspects of caregiving. There are too many variables for one-size-fits-all answers to most questions about the best therapy, living situation, medical choice, and so on.

2. There's no such thing as a dumb question.

Why this is smart thinking: Asking for help in areas that are unfamiliar to you helps you to make a more informed decision. Bring in the opinions of doctors, a geriatric care manager, relatives, or other interested parties to help you weigh tough choices. Asking questions like, "What would you do if it were your mother?" or "What am I not considering so far?" invite thoughtful answers.

Casting a wide net for answers brings clarity. If you find yourself getting confused by diverging views, ask for help in organizing or narrowing the options.

3. Trust your gut.

Why this is smart thinking: Ultimately, you're the decider about many matters. Don't discount that little voice in your head (or heart) that's speaking to you. Following your instincts might not agree with conventional wisdom, but it's probably coming from a place of truth deep within you.

Don't blame yourself if there seems to be a setback or change. True, it might be related to your decision, but then again, it might have happened anyway. Another truism that goes along with caregiving decision making is that you can't control everything. No matter what you do or don't do, say or don't say, events will unfold. But by making your decisions thoughtfully and considerately, you can rest easier knowing you did your best.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio