Be prepared

"...You think you are prepared, but all too often you find out you don't know enough..." - a Caregiver

There is nothing that will sap your strength like fear, and nothing feeds that fear like not knowing what's going on. Knowledge is critical. It can empower you and give you confidence, because you will better understand what is going on around you and how best to handle the situation. You will be able to expect and anticipate better. And you are less likely to be surprised.

WARNING!!! Far too often we think we know what's going on when we really don't. We've heard a little here and there, maybe seen a special on TV, and worst of all, made assumptions based on our own experiences or common sense. But guess what? Many times we're wrong and we discover only too late that "common sense" is no help at all. So decide right now to be as prepared as you can. Understand what is really going

Decide what care you must give, what care you can give, what care you want to give, and what care you can't give. All of these are different.They go not only to knowledge, but also to your own available time, outside resources, mobility, health, finances, and even personality. Some things you may choose to overcome, others you can't. While you may want to buy some material, you may not have the funds to do so. You may want to speak with a leading expert, but suffer yourself from shyness or anxiety. But when you make that list of the things you can't do, make sure you don't list those things that are based only on a lack of knowledge. If you have the desire, you can overcome that.

Go to the public library and book stores. See what relevant material they have available. For more in-depth study, go to a college, medical or hospital library if one's close by. And if you don't know where to look once you get there, ask. Most of the people there really do want to help. Often they are able to direct you to some research you would never have found on your own.

Seek the help of professionals. Call the office of those who regularly handle the problem you're researching. Tell them you're a Caregiver and want to be better prepared. Ask if they have some material they could give you. Find out if they have other sources to direct you to. Go ahead and ask if the professional would be willing to spend 10 minutes with you to help guide you. Be bold. All they can do is say, No.

Go to the Internet and search. Now this can drive you crazy, so be careful. For any given problem, there can easy be a million different sites offering help and insight. There just isn't enough time to read them all, so pick those that seem to have the best credentials. For example, an article on alcoholism by the Mayo Clinic might be better than one published by Bob's Package Store.

Attend a class on your area of need. Scan the local newspapers for courses. Many are offered free or at low cost. The availability of these vary from location to location, but they are often a great source of information.

Look for support groups. There are many different kinds out there, so you have a good chance of finding some that will add to your overall knowledge. But there's another important reason for checking these out. The information you gather from other sources will go a long way in preparing you for the task at hand, but this is usually "general" information. It most often fits and is most often correct because every situation is different to some degree. But in support groups you get to hear from those who are actually living the experience. You may well discover that someone has already dealt with a problem not discussed in the books you've read...and they've also found a solution.

Lean on others! If you can't get to a location to pick up some material, ask a friend to do it. If you can't afford a book or a class, ask your church to fund it. And if you need to leave the one you're caring for to do some of this work, ask someone to help for the day. For those who are Christians, it is expected and required of us to help each other. For those who are not, I pray you have the friends to fill this need. But regardless, it is very difficult to find help when we refuse to seek it.

Never stop studying! Don't fall into the trap of thinking you know it all. It's so easy to do because you are right there on the front lines. "I see this every day. What could they possibly tell me that I don't already know?" But there will always be new ideas, new insights, and new avenues for hope. Don't deny yourself such encouragement.