Every new responsibility brings a number of questions, concerns, and opportunities. When that new responsibility is the care of an aging parent or loved one, you may be faced with difficult questions you’ve never had to consider. The great news is that every step of the journey presents you with an opportunity to support someone you love while nurturing that relationship. You simply need helpful answers to get started.
We understand that every caregiving situation is unique, but over time we’ve found the following questions to be helpful for new caregivers.
- What is a family caregiver?
- What situations can lead to becoming a family caregiver?
- What does a family caregiver need to do?
- Why would you choose family caregiving over professional care?
What is a family caregiver?
A caregiver is any person, professional or otherwise, who assists with another person’s health or social needs. A family caregiver, then, is any person who provides this service to a family member, such as an aging parent(s), a spouse, or even an adult child.
Family caregivers are more common than you may realize. According to AARP, there are 53 million family caregivers in the United States. And the CDC reports that nearly 1 in 4 adults between 45 and 64 are family caregivers. You are definitely not alone on this journey!
Family caregiving involves supporting the daily needs of your loved one and may include:
- bathing and dressing
- paying bills and/or managing finances
- grocery shopping and/or meal preparation
- monitoring health conditions
- advocacy with medical providers
- emotional support
- managing a disability
Responsibilities vary and will inevitably change over time, depending on the needs and conditions of your loved one.
What situations can lead to becoming a family caregiver?
There is no singular path to becoming a family caregiver. In fact, you will likely come to this responsibility either very suddenly or gradually over time; each path has its own unique challenges.
When the need to provide care to a loved one arrives suddenly, it is often because of an event such as a fall, a major surgery, or the diagnosis of a new medical condition. When the need arises suddenly, you step into this role as an act of love and compassion during a difficult moment, and you may not yet consider the long-term nature of caregiving.
Family caregiving can also arrive gradually. Perhaps you have watched the need arise slowly in your aging parents or your spouse. Maybe you’ve put off the conversation, perhaps the medical condition developed slowly, or maybe your loved one is proving to not be as attentive to monitoring important metrics like their glucose or blood pressure as they need to be. No matter the scenario, this gradual onset requires a brave conversation with your loved one and presents you with an opportunity to show how much you care.
What does a family caregiver need to do first?
When you accept responsibility as a family caregiver, there are several things you can do in the first few weeks. For many people, it helps to break these down into steps you need to take for your loved one and steps you need to take in your own life as you begin the stages of family caregiving.
For your loved one:
- Talk to your loved one about your role and understand their concerns
- Talk to their doctor to better understand what you need to do to ensure their safety and well-being
- Get the right tools/resources for your situation, including online knowledge bases like the Family Caregiver Alliance and evaluating medical alert systems and remote health monitoring equipment.
- Accept that things have changed and take inventory of where you need flexibility in your daily life
- Adjust your schedule to ensure care for your loved one at the times it is required. This may require talking to your boss, your spouse, or your children to make the needed changes and arrangements.
- Ask for support from your friends and community, and inquire if any siblings or neighbors can assist with some caregiving tasks.
Why would you choose family caregiving over professional care?
If you are reading this, you have likely already chosen to become a family caregiver—at least part-time. You deliberated on the options, or maybe you simply knew in your gut that it was the right thing to do.
But the fact remains that family caregiving is not the only option available, and you may be wondering if you’ve made the right choice for your loved one. Many types of care exist for many scenarios and medical conditions. And while each situation is unique, there are many pros and cons to consider as you move forward.
Pros of family caregiving:
- Support your loved one personally
- Invest in your relationship
- Increase quality of life for your loved one
- Save your or your loved one’s money
- Retain visibility and control over their care
Potential cons of family caregiving:
- Increases stress
- Limits your ability to work
- Impacts your personal schedule
- Can complicate your relationship with your loved one
Connected Caregiver exists to help ease many of the stressors that come with family caregiving. Having reliable, up-to-the-minute remote access to your loved one’s safety and health status can help reduce the stress of the unknown and can decrease the amount of time you need to spend ensuring they are healthy and following their care plan. By incorporating Connected Caregiver into the tools you use as a family caregiver, you are setting both you and your loved one up for a less stressful experience.
Connected Caregiver is an affordable way to enhance your ability to provide high-quality care to your loved one, potentially helping to avoid the high cost of in-home professional care
It takes a special kind of person to be a family caregiver. Be proud that you are motivated by love and concern for your family. And remember you have many support systems to turn to, from friends and family to your loved one’s doctor to smart caregiving tools like Connected Caregiver. You aren’t alone, and the most successful family caregivers are the ones that use all the resources available to them.
What is Connected Caregiver?
At Connected Caregiver, we understand that caring for aging parents and loved ones can be difficult, and have committed ourselves to equipping caregivers with services such as remote health and safety monitoring to give you peace of mind, and caregiver coordination tools to help organize your many responsibilities and make your life easier.
We believe no family caregiver should ever feel overwhelmed and alone. The incredible people who commit their time and energy to ensure the safety of their loved ones deserve the very best resources to safeguard their families and their own lives. Most of all, they deserve to feel in control and confident in their ability to care for the people they care about most. If you’d like to learn more, click here.
Want to see how Connected Caregiver can help you and your loved one? Take our quiz!