There are millions of family caregivers across America providing care and assistance to a family member, relative or friend on a daily basis. This task can be a stressful and sometimes thankless endeavor, but one born out of love and support for those being cared for. We see the care giving as a personal odyssey in the form of a III Act play.
“Becoming a Caregiver”
It is a prolonged journey of care giving as our family and friends experience the natural aging process. As people age, they naturally slow down and the basics of daily living become more and more difficult. Therefore, the need for help with daily tasks such as, shopping, cooking, cleaning become more demanding. This assistance is offered as a labor of love by family care givers and is rewarding and demanding at the same time.
Caring for someone with a chronic disease or disability such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s or Arthritis is often demanding physically and mentally. The progressive nature of these conditions increases a caregiver’s responsibilities and will require more caregiver assistance on a protracted basis. Getting support from physicians as well as mental health professionals to understand the demands of caring is essential.
The phone call that comes out of the blue. A person has fallen, been in an accident or suffered a medical emergency. With no warning or preparation, you are a caregiver. As with any injury or disability, immediate care will be necessary for the victim. The novice caregiver will have to step up with little time to prepare, and must gather resources to undertake the responsibilities of becoming a caregiver.
At some point in the care giving process, the needs of the cared for, will exceed the capabilities of a family care giver. Moving to a care facility becomes necessary. This is not a reflection on the caregiver but an opportunity to afford a person the additional care needed on a daily basis. The caring does not end there though. The issues of where, when and how care will be accomplished must be confronted. Questions arise on how to pay, and how daily care will be provided,l need to be confronted. Working with a care consultant and physician can help make the choice between a rehab facility, independent living, assisted living or nursing home the right one.
The longer one is a caregiver, the harder it will be when the inevitable occurs and the days of care giving are over. Most casual caregivers reengage and get on with their lives, work, school and social activities. But some caregivers are left in dark world of loss. They have put life on hold for an extended period of time in their role as a caregiver, as it became their main focus. How does a person return to a new normal that creates a fulfilling life? Caregivers need to take the time to get back to their new reality. This may sound easy, but it is complicated and will take time to rebuild and regain normalcy.