Statistics show one in four people will serve as a family caregiver at some point in their life. Some assume this role after a sudden illness or injury, while others step up when an aging loved one simply cannot care for his or her self anymore.
While you may have not envisioned this role for yourself, understanding the various responsibilities, challenges and opportunities involved will help you decide if it’s right for your lifestyle.
So, before becoming a family caregiver for a loved one, take into consideration these factors.
Did you know family caregivers spend on average anywhere between 20 and 40 hours per week providing care for an aging loved one—on top of their own personal responsibilities?
This may include assisting with the following activities:
- Personal care, including bathing, grooming and toileting.
- Mobility assistance, including transporting them to and from doctor’s appointments, or positioning him or her in beds and chairs.
- Food preparation, including shopping for groceries, preparing meals and monitoring nutrition levels.
- Housekeeping, including dusting, vacuuming and sweeping, washing the dishes and tending to the laundry.
Determining how much time you’re able to give is an important step when deciding to serve as a family caregiver for a loved one. Your lifestyle will likely change, giving you less time for activities that you once had before, so make sure to communicate whether its possible for you to take on more.
How close are you in proximity to your loved one? Consider the distance between your homes, as it impacts time and money.
If your loved one is no longer able to live on their own, determine whether you have enough space for him or her to move in with you to save time commuting back and forth. Other factors include the safety and security of your home. Are they able to navigate to and from rooms without the risk of falling, tripping or slipping? If the answer is no, you may need to make general modifications to your home.
It’s important to make sure you can stay within your means while caring for a loved one. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk with a financial planner to explore what benefits are available to you and your family.
Also, have a discussion with your family about the cost of caregiving. You may be able to split up the expenses in a way that alleviates the financial burden from falling solely on you.
Is your loved one’s health quickly declining? If so, you may be called upon to administer medications from time to time. Are you confident that you can manage these tasks on your own?
While there are in-home health care teams available to provide assistance, it’s important that you feel equipped to care for your loved one without the supervision of others. Consider attending appointments and building relationships with his or her physicians to gain a better understanding of illnesses, ailments or medications.
While your loved one is considered family, you probably have a family of your own, too. This may or may not include a spouse and kids. How will becoming a caregiver change your family dynamic? Taking on caregiving may require you to rearrange schedules, including family meal times, chores or running errands.
Explore Even More Caregiver Resources
Looking for more resources as you embark on your family caregiving journey? Download Busch’s Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Family Caregivers to uncover the strategies you need to provide the highest quality of care for your loved one.