What is a caregiver? A caregiver is a person who takes primary responsibility for the logistics of caring for a loved one through every stage of any debilitating condition or disease.
The decision to become the primary caregiver of a loved one is not a decision made easily, emotionally or temporarily. It is a commitment that if not made carefully with full intention and preparation, can devastate an individual and family. Questions need to be asked in advance to determine the practical aspects and realistic ability of one who decides to take on this daunting challenge. Guilt is not a sustainable reason for one who may be dramatically altering their life for a period of perhaps 10-15 years.
Many people do not understand that love and ability is not the same thing. In fact, the way to express real love, is knowing how to effectively manage the care of a loved one and be prepared to do so in advance.
What Should I Know to Consider Being the Primary Caregiver?
Assessing your strengths and weaknesses is vital for the caregiver prior to making a sustainable choice and the location your loved one is going to live. It is critical that this choice be made based upon honest analysis. Having to move your loved one unnecessarily is costly, emotional disturbing, and physically taxing for you, as well as your loved one.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- Do you have a sufficient support system?
- Does your job allow the flexibility to respond to repetitious crises?
- Do you feel comfortable assisting your loved one with daily care? (Bathing, dressing, administering medications, incontinence needs.)
- Are you physically capable of lifting on a daily basis?
- Are you emotionally capable of handling the stress and grief over an extended period of time?
- Can you manage your loved one’s behavior based on your past and current relationship?
- Do you have a strong marriage with good communication? Don’t underestimate the toll it will take.
- Do you have the finances, time and skills that would allow you to handle this endeavor?
- How will an infirmed loved one affect your family and household?
- Do you have enough/appropriate space in your home?
- Can you administer suppositories, clean up vomit or change an adult brief?
- Can you accept help? Know that you cannot do this alone!!
Caregiving is a multi-generational family affair. But make no mistake, as the primary caregiver, you will be 100 percent responsible. However, along with this responsibility, you receive extraordinary gifts of the heart. It has never been truer, that the sacrifice one makes as a caregiver, is no sacrifice at all, but rather an opportunity. With the right attitude, caregiving can open a door within that could change your life.
So … be prepared! Ask the right questions well before a crisis occurs and have the conversation with the whole family. Go into caregiving with an attitude of service and share this as a family goal. Be open for personal change and accept what is beyond your limitations.
You must find a way to develop the competency needed while, at the same time, surrendering to the process. There will be many things out of your control. Try and let go of what you can do nothing about. You may find that those are the very things that change your life. And most of all, keep your focus on love and remember: Caregiving……. is love in action.
Author Lee Lambert, CEO of Lee Lambert Cares, empowers family caregivers to know what to do and when to do it, so that they can experience the simple joy of living life normally while caring for a loved one. Visit her at www.leelambertcares.com.
Read more columns by Lee Lambert here.
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