People fall into the caregiver roll long before they self-identify as one. You hear people say, “Oh, I’m just doing what a daughter does.” That may be true, but not identifying as a caregiver means you run the risk of not realizing when you need help, which in turn means you don’t ask for help. Not asking for and not saying yes to help, is one reason caregivers burn out and can wind up with significant health problems of their own.
Not identifying as a caregiver can be deeply cultural as well. There is no equivalent word in Spanish for “caregiver.” There are descriptions, but not a single word that identifies that role.
People who don’t live with or near their aging parent often feel they are not a caregiver. The idea that you must live with someone 24 hours a day to be a caregiver is misguided; and dangerous. No matter where they live, family caregivers take on additional responsibilities by overseeing a myriad of details; like paying bills, talking with their loved one’s doctors and ensuring their home is in good repair. Distance has no bearing on many caregiving tasks.
In addition, the idea that you must be involved in personal care, helping your loved one with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), to be a caregiver is not true. A qualified home care agency like Springpoint at Home will help your loved one with the ADL’s of dressing, bathing, eating or walking. But there are things many agencies cannot do; such as medication management, follow up with insurance companies or take a beloved pet to the vet. For help and support beyond ADL’s, look for an agency like Springpoint at Home where care managers on staff can find resources to help with medication management, will work to facilitate insurance follow up, and ensure that your animal gets the care they need.
For care managers, the family caregiver plays a critical role as the gatekeeper of important information. When your care manager from Springpoint at Home calls to say the sink is leaking, the lawn needs to be mowed or dad is acting strangely and a UTI is suspected, you have peace of mind that everything is being handled.
As the family caregiver, you know your loved one and their situation the best and are responsible for getting them the support they need to live their best years. As the family caregiver, you are their emotional support and can have both a positive and negative influence on how your senior handles illness, loneliness and the stress of day-to-day life. Partnering with a care manager does not end your central caregiver role, rather it gives you help in juggling roles and responsibilities. To your loved one, your role as a caregiver, no matter what form it takes, is essential to their wellbeing.
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