Caring for Caregivers

Chances are you, or someone close to you, is or will be a caregiver at some point. Caregivers are all around us – they are simply people who look after their loved ones. This may be part-time, or round-the-clock care. Some people become caregivers gradually as their loved one becomes more dependent. Sometimes they may become a caregiver overnight. Anyone who provides aid to someone who needs it is a caregiver. This aid may range from keeping house, to managing a senior’s finances, to constant bedside aid.

The heart of a caregiver is a powerful resource. Most caregivers don’t realize that they are classified as caregivers – they believe they are simply performing their family duty. Regardless of the circumstances, caregivers need care too. The physical, social, financial, and emotional stresses of caring for a loved one take their toll.

If you are not ready to seek a professional caregiver, it is vital to take advantage of respite care. Even if it’s one day a week, or a longer vacation, having someone relieve the primary caregiver of duty is essential to his or her health. Taking the time to look after yourself will help immensely in coping, as well as the relationship between the caregiver and the person needing care.

Eventually, a caregiver may need to hire a professional caregiver. How do you know when it’s time to find professional aid?

  1. You are constantly tired. It is hard to find the energy to perform the tasks you need to for the person you’re caring for, as well as yourself. You might find yourself catching every cold that goes around, forgetting to do certain chores, or lacking motivation to see friends and go outside. Reaching this point is bad for your own health, as well as the person dependent on you.
  2. Their condition has changed, or is deteriorating, and you are not equipped to assist them with their new requirements. Always ask the doctor lots of questions, and do your own research, so you know beforehand the needs of the person you’re caring for. Knowing in advance at which point you will no longer be equipped to provide care is important to making the decision.
  3. You are having trouble coping. Keep a diary of your emotions. Remember it’s natural to feel negative emotions such as grief, frustration, hopelessness, or fear. But when these emotions become dominant thoughts in your brain, it is time to find relief in a professional caregiver.
  4. You are financially unable to continue giving care at home. If you have left work to become a caregiver temporarily, and have ended up care-giving more long term, you should explore your financial options. Talk to your family about how you can plan for when your parent needs care, and how you will pay for a professional caregiver so you can return to work. It can be difficult to remind yourself that giving up your job will not benefit yourself nor the person you are caring for eventually.

If any of these describe you, or someone you know, it is time to find a caregiver. Caregivers can be found for all types of situations and you will be able to find one to suit your family. They can range from a few hours a week, to round-the-clock assistance. Hiring a caregiver is not declining your duty as a family member – it is the best you can do for your loved one so they can stay at home and you can look after yourself as well.