Family caregiving is a preferred option adopted by many households now as a means to look after ill family members in their older age. In doing this, though, you are also faced with a variety of new responsibilities. This article will go into some more detail about the support that is available to you, how you can overcome challenges, and how you can make caregiving more rewarding for both yourself and the person you’re caring for.
What is Family Caregiving?
Given that life expectancies continue to increase, the medical treatments that are available to people advance, and as such, there are a lot of people who live with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Regardless of your situation, whether you find yourself looking after an aging loved one from home, are taking care of a child with a physical or mental illness, or being there for a family member who is in need of kindness and love, there are a lot of instances where family caregiving comes into play. This can be very rewarding, as day after day, you are going to be providing your loved one with the care that they need and improving their quality of life as a result, which they will appreciate, even if they are unable to express their gratitude fully.
Though taking on this role can be very rewarding, it can also be very challenging. Chances are you have never anticipated just how difficult the situation can be; however, you do not need to be an expert in nursing or a superhero to make it work. There are practices you can do as well as help you can reach out for that will allow you to give your loved one the kind of treatment they deserve.
A Few Tips Before You Start
Here are a few tips that will help you on your way to family caregiving:
- Learn as much as you can
You should become as clued up as possible on your family member’s illness or disability as that means that you are going to be able to care for them much better. This is good for your loved one but also for yourself as the more you know about the illness, the less you are going to feel anxious about making decisions in your new role as a caregiver.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There are plenty of instances where you are going to feel overwhelmed and like you need more assistance. There is support out there, such as in the form of ChartSpan who deal with Chronic Care Management. These are able to provide you with 24/7 support, so if you have any questions about treatment that your family member may be receiving or would like assistance when it comes to providing treatment, you will be able to turn to them.
- Trust your instincts
You are in a position that you haven’t been in before, and as such, it is understandable that you may begin to second guess yourself and the decisions that you’re making. The fact is, no one knows your family member as well as you do. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the advice that is provided by doctors and specialists, but you should trust your gut too.
Feelings You May Experience Becoming a Family Caregiver
As previously mentioned, being a family caregiver can trigger a huge range of difficult emotions. These can vary depending on the situation you find yourself in and how you deal with it. Some of the emotions that you might experience include:
- Anxiety and worry
It’s only natural that you are going to worry about the way you can handle the additional responsibilities of being a caregiver. You will also likely become anxious about what the future holds and how your loved one is going to fare.
- Anger or resentment
There are going to be some instances where you feel angry or resentful towards the person that you are looking after. Sure, you will be able to recognize these thoughts as irrational; however, you may still experience them all the same. Your anger may well be just at the world in general or towards friends and family who don’t have your level of responsibilities.
It’s likely that you will feel guilty for not being able to do more. This is common in doctors and nurses everywhere. This will be because no matter how effective the methods you are providing are, there will always be the lingering feeling that you can do more, and this will manifest itself as guilt. This will apply in the case of long-distance caregiving, too, as you will feel guilty about not being available as frequently as you’d like to be.
There are losses that are likely to come with caregiving. If you are looking after a loved one who is terminally ill, then you are going to experience grief because of those circumstances too.
You need to ensure that you don’t beat yourself up about the doubts and misgivings that come with being a carer and that you acknowledge all of these different emotions instead. Having them doesn’t mean that you don’t love your family member; all they mean is that you’re human.
You should be sure to reach out to people and talk about your feelings. Internalizing things is very unhealthy, and it is important that you don’t keep them bottled up and instead confide in someone.
Due to the increase in life expectancy across the world, more and more people are opting to take on the task of being a family caregiver. While this is a very rewarding process, it can also be very daunting. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a caregiver; with that responsibility, you are also going to experience feelings of anxiety, guilt, and grief.
It’s important that you acknowledge the feelings that come with being a caregiver and are not worried about opening up to people about them. You should also reach out for help when it comes to offering care because this will help massively moving forward.