Being a family caregiver sure isn’t easy! Depending on what kind of caregiver you are, this is a job that is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes care means a weekly call to check-in or stopping by for a quick visit from time to time. More involved care usually involves several hours each day of in-person assistance. It requires a much deeper level of commitment from the family caregiver. Occasionally being a family caregiver may be a job that feels like it will never end.
Are you a born caregiver? If so, you probably started providing care at a very early age and have continued throughout your life. The child that diligently feeds the family pet or waters the house plants and flower garden is probably a natural caregiver. As he or she grows older, a caring profession like nursing, teaching, and customer service positions is a natural fit for a gifted caregiver. These caring individuals quickly become family caregivers when the time is right. Does that come close to describing you? If so, then caregiving probably comes relatively easy for you.
But what if you aren’t naturally gifted to care for others? This isn’t a weakness or a fault; it’s just a fact. You do other really important things, but maybe you shouldn’t be expected to water the house plants or feed the dog except on occasion as a special favor. So, what happens when you find yourself needing to step up and become a family caregiver? It’s not that you are incapable of taking on the role, but you probably need to approach it differently. Maybe you are gifted as a manager and organize a team of family and friends to provide the necessary care. Perhaps you hire an agency and hand over the responsibility of daily care but oversee how payments are delivered because you are good with money. Possibly you are just comfortable enough in your own skin to call a family meeting and ask for help with ideas and solutions. All of these pathways will achieve the desired results: an aging family member receives the care s/he needs and knows that s/he is loved and cherished by you and others.
Which type of family caregiver are you? Are you great at taking care of others, approaching each new day brimming with creative thoughts and boundless energy? Or are you good at other essential life skills, and do you now find yourself in need of ideas to manage care for an aging loved one? Whichever description best fits your current situation, Betsy and I are here to lend a hand. We hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how you approach caregiving as hard labor.