Being a family caregiver is never a one-size-fits-all kind of role. Every situation is different, and every solution is unique and individual. Care comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes providing care just means being a family member or friend who lends a hand with housekeeping, running, errands, and cooking a meal from time to time. This type of care requires virtually no skill set other than a cheerful heart, a willing spirit, and a flexible schedule.
At other times the necessary care might be more personal in nature, like assisting with toileting, standing or sitting, walking, bathing, administering medications and monitoring vital signs. These tasks may feel more like nursing than like being a friend, and they definitely require some level of training. While many of these skills can be learned through verbal coaching and reverse demonstration, some (like helping to lift a loved one who needs assistance when moving from sitting to standing) may also require more physical strength and capability. Also, your mom or dad might be uncomfortable having you help them with more intimate care like bathing or toileting.
Chronic disease management further complicates caregiving. Conditions like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), congestive heart failure, diabetes, and Parkinson’s Disease come with special care needs that you might feel are outside your ability to support fully, but this doesn’t mean you cannot continue to manage the necessary care. If dementia is also a factor, you might find yourself needing a cafeteria plan of solutions to navigate the spectrum of care your loved one requires.
When barriers arise that prevent or limit your ability to care for your loved one, it may be time to consider other options like engaging a licensed home care agency to provide professional caregiving services, modifying the home to accommodate declining abilities, or moving your loved one into a facility that can more effectively handle their advancing care needs. This in no way means you have failed as a family caregiver, and there are lots of available resources to help you put together a cafeteria care plan that will work for you and your loved one. CaregiverStress and Help for Alzheimers Families are both great places to start.
We hope you’ll join this week’s conversation here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about finding the right answer for your particular caregiving situation. We’re here to help!