Being a caregiver is not an easy job. And it’s not just because of the pressure of taking care of someone else’s health and well-being that’s overwhelming. While caregiving itself can be hard, it’s immensely rewarding as well, seeing your client get better or supporting them as they learn to live their life, independent of your help.
The real cause of concern when it comes to being a professional in the healthcare industry is that of public perception. Like any field of work, caregiving is also subject to a lot of misconceptions and questions. People have different concepts of the work involved in caregiving. Many believe it’s the same as taking care of a child. However, the truth varies.
Taking care of a person over the age of 50 – someone who has lived through their prime – is very different than taking care of a child. You must be aware of not just their physical needs, but their emotional and mental needs as well. While some may be open to accepting help, others may not be able to accept that they’re at a point in their lives where they must now depend on someone for their everyday tasks.
Some also believe that only professional caregivers can be deemed caregivers. However, the reality is that 34.2 million people – those who have no experience or training in caregiving – actually offer care to adults over the age of 50.
Here are a few things everyone, especially first-time caregivers should be aware of:
Learning the Basics of Caregiving
Here, we’re discussing some essentials that caregivers themselves wish others knew about. These relate to not just the professionals in the field, but the concept of caregiving as well.
· Do Not Judge Someone (Or Yourself) if You Hire a Caregiver
Many family members often express guilt that they’re not taking proper care of their loved one because they’ve hired someone else to do it for them. Do not judge yourself. If possible, don’t even think it. If someone else tries to judge you, disregard their opinion. Unless they’ve dealt with taking care of an ailing person themselves, they don’t have the right to evaluate your decision.
· Caregiving is Not a Thankless Job
Contrary to popular belief, not every caregiver believes that caring is not rewarding. Yes, there are negative feelings involved, especially when we’re with a client who needs end-of-life care or a terminal illness. However, this is particular because these are usually feelings of sorrow. For family caregivers though, these feelings may involve them not being able to live their own life. That is different.
· Caregiving is Not a Taboo Topic
Caregivers do not want to hide the fact that they’re caregivers, by choice or by profession. It’s perfectly fine to talk about caregiving and your own experiences if you want to. It’s a misconception that this topic is taboo in society. Rather than hiding the fact that you’re providing care for someone, bring it out in the open and educate people about the field.
· It’s Okay to Ask Specific Questions
This is particularly for first-time professional caregivers. Instead of asking open-ended questions like “how can I help? Is there something I should know?” ask better questions relating to the client’s health. For example, if the person has Alzheimer’s, some good questions would be, “which medicine do they take? Is there a particular reaction I should know about? What times are more difficult for them? What activities?”
· Recognize Signs of Grief
If the client has Alzheimer’s or Dementia, they may have gone through a mentally draining period in their life, something that is not easy to overcome. Recognize this grief and try to educate other family members about this signs as well. Help everyone understand that this sorrow hangs over the person for a long time. It’s not something they’ll be able to just get over.
· Don’t Go for Perfection
Many caregivers tend to work themselves to the bone, trying to make sure they’re meeting all their client’s needs at all times. But this isn’t a practical approach to caregiving, or a healthy one. If you feel guilty that you’re not able to perform your level best all the time, brush it away. Rather than fixating on making everything perfect, try to make things comfortable. You cannot fix your client’s ailments, but you can help them feel happier or more at ease.
· It’s Okay to Set Boundaries
Many family caregivers have this tendency of not saying no. But you can’t give up on your needs, just because you have to take care of someone else’s. Saying no to a loved one can be difficult. But if you receive any demands from friends or family members, you have the right to bow out, or at least stand your ground. Others must do their share in providing care. It’s important for your sanity and well-being.
· Staying Connected to a Large Network Teaches You More
According to a 2015 AARP report, there are an estimate 43.5 million adults in the US who provided unpaid care to their loved one in just 12 months. You clearly have a large network you can learn from. Utilize caregiver counseling services and resources such as The Global Caregiver. Contact consultation services and support forums to ask questions and connect with one another through seminars.
Maintain Your Confidence and Skill as a Caregiver
Being a caregiver is more than just about taking care of your client. It’s about learning how to support others and gaining their trust and support back.
With The Global Caregiver, you can accomplish that more easily.
We offer caregiving counseling services to caregivers all over the world. With proper coaching and guidance through informational resources and seminars among other methods, we are able to help these clients become professional family caregivers.
Learn more about caregiving by browsing through our website. Buy “The Beverley Method”, our e-book written by The Global Caregiver founder Beverly Shungu-Omba, which is dedicated to helping caregivers raise the bar in their confidence training.