Caregiving has been part of mankind’s existence from the beginning. We’ve all had caregivers — usually known as Mom and Dad. Many of us have been caregivers of our own children. And as needs changed, parents adjusted their caregiving duties. That is the very first reality of caregiving…
■ Caregiving changes with time. For caregivers of aging parents, it may be a gradual shift from picking up the groceries to checking medications and then to providing help with physical needs. For some, their entry into caregiving is more dramatic as the result of a fall or illness. Caregiving tasks change from that point and often become increasingly complex and difficult.
■ Caregiving is physically demanding. As caregivers, we fill a critical role in the lives of those for whom we care. Our ability to provide compassionate and effective care is linked directly to our own physical, spiritual and emotional health.
■ Caregiving requires support. While we are caregiving, accessing the experience, knowledge and understanding other caregivers can offer makes our journey a little easier. Being part of a support group or having a close connection with another caregiver is essential. Understanding and making use of community resources can make caregiving a little easier, as well.
■ Every aspect of caregiving has challenges. All kinds of emotions can arise, from anger to love. It forces us to face our own mortality but also allows us an opportunity to undertake the highest level of good that humankind can offer — caring for someone else.
■ Caregiving can be rewarding. As difficult as caregiving can be, if approached in a healthy and realistic manner, it can also be very rewarding.
■ Caregiving has an end. This is one reality that is missed by almost every caregiver. It is a reality that we try to avoid, put off, hide from and deny, but the truth is most caregiving has an end — and that end is death. We must be careful to not become so focused on preserving life that we lose sight of quality-of-life.
The Caregiver Foundation would like to serve as your resource for information about becoming a caregiver for a loved one. Our online How-To series provides some of the information you may also receive in our various workshops. If you are a new caregiver, we encourage you to attend one of our workshops or caregiving training classes and join a Caregiver Support Group to learn from and communicate with other caregivers.