Caregiving is more than just brewing a cup of tea or transporting someone to doctor’s appointments. Caregiving is giving at the most intense level possible; a physical, mental and emotional exercise that requires patience, tenacity, empathy and compassion. Before becoming a caregiver, either in a professional capacity or for a family member, one should very carefully consider whether one possesses the traits and characteristics necessary for caregiving in the long term.
Here are some questions to consider:
Can I physically handle caregiving tasks? Being a caregiver requires carrying groceries, doing light housekeeping, and helping the person under care to move about. It can mean providing basic mobility support such as helping the senior to get in and out of chairs; but it can also mean helping the person in and out of the shower and other riskier situations. This requires the caregiver to be mobile, healthy, and fairly strong. Physical limitations or chronic diseases such as arthritis may make caregiving difficult.
If family members find that they want to be the caregiver but cannot physically provide that level of support, LivHOME professionals can step in to help. Our caregiver program will assess the level of assistance needed and develop an in-home care program to remove pressure from family members while providing support for the senior.
Am I prepared to learn and grow? Caregiving is far from a static job. Every day is different and frequently requires learning in the moment. When caring for an especially frail senior, his or her condition can change every hour or every day. New medications and treatment plans require fast learning by the caregiver. If caring for a senior with dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease, mood changes, behavioral changes and outbursts require quick thinking and a font of knowledge with which to appropriately, and effectively, address the situation.
If you are considering being a caregiver for the long term, there are three essential questions you should ask yourself:
- Am I willing to ask for support?
- Will I be able to make time for myself?
- Do I have support?
For professionals sitting behind a desk all day, taking care of oneself and asking for support are good ideas that reduce stress. For caregivers, these abilities are critical to survival. The core of the caregiver’s role is caring and giving of oneself. That source of care and compassion will need to be replenished regularly. A caregiver who understands this, and makes time for self-restoration, will be the most successful caregiver and able to continually give to the senior under care.
A support system is just as essential as a self-care system. People who will step in when the caregiver needs a break provide stability to the caregiving system. Friends or family members willing to be on call should the senior need help late at night add extra support. Caregivers who are willing to ask for support find that they are successful longer because they experience lower levels of stress and because support adds longevity to the caregiving role.