Caregivers play an essential role in taking care of those who need assistance and support in their daily lives. Choosing to become a family caregiver is a major decision that often requires lifestyle adjustments and sacrifices to help a family member in need. If you are considering becoming a caregiver for a loved one, here is everything you need to know about being a family caregiver.
What is a Family Caregiver?
A caregiver is someone who provides paid or unpaid care for someone who is elderly, ill, frail, incapacitated, or disabled. At one point or another, everyone needs assistance from time to time, and in some instances, it’s necessary for people to seek additional assistance or long-term care from caregivers.
A family caregiver, also known as an informal caregiver, is someone who cares for a family member or friend, usually without payment. They will tend to the needs of an aging or ill parent, spouse, other relative, or friend that is ill or disabled in a home environment.
Thing To Consider Before Becoming a Family Caregiver
There are many responsibilities that come with caring for a family member and providing them assistance with their daily life activities. Caring for a loved one can be a very rewarding experience, but it is also a large responsibility that can at times become overwhelming. It’s important to take the time to understand what it means to be a family caregiver before making your decision. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself if you’re considering being a family caregiver.
1. Can you take care of your loved one by yourself?
If you’re planning to care for your loved one alone, consider whether you will be able to provide them with assistance and care constantly throughout the day. You may need other family members, loved ones or professional caregivers to help you. Apart from a family caregiver, there are 4 types of formal caregivers that are most popularly recognized and can be considered if you need assistance with caring for your loved one: an adult daycare center caregiver, home health care caregiver, assisted living facility caregiver, and a nursing home caregiver.
2. Are you prepared financially?
With caring for a family member, there do come financial costs that will become your responsibility. The most common expenses for a family caregiver are food, household goods, transportation, and medical care including prescription costs. Ask yourself whether you can pay these bills, and whether other family members or loved ones can help.
3. Do you have the skills?
Reflect on your own skills, personality, and availability and ask yourself whether you are able to be the person who is responsible for your family member. Caring for a loved one may include bathing, dressing, feeding, providing meals and administering medication.
4. Will you have support?
Caring for a loved one can take a toll on a person mentally and physically. It’s important that you also take the time to care for yourself. Seek out social support and resources that can help support you during this time. If you have family members or loved ones willing to help, schedule in regular breaks for yourself to take care of your wellbeing, too.
How to Care For Yourself as a Family Caregiver
As a family caregiver, much of your time is spent prioritizing and caring for your loved one but, it’s important that you also remember to care for yourself. It is easy, and completely normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed at times when being a family caregiver. Many emotions surface when you take on the role of caregiving and it’s important that you know that your feelings are valid. Here are a few things to remember throughout your role of being a family caregiver:
- Your thoughts, emotions, and feelings are completely valid and you have a right to all of your emotions.
- Learn about the family member’s disease and what you can expect.
- You cannot be perfect.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself, and for your family member.
- Learn what your stressors and triggers are and how to healthily cope with them.
- Learn when to say no to things you are unable to do.
- Don’t neglect your own mental health and wellbeing – set aside space and time for yourself regularly.
Being a family caregiver is a fulfilling and rewarding experience but it doesn’t come without its challenges. It’s important to understand the roles and responsibilities of being a family caregiver, and to take time to care for yourself.