Are You a Caregiver?

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 1/10/2019 6:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Contributed by Cynthia Mitchell RN
After being in the home care industry for more than a decade, it never ceases to amaze me when discussing care with a family member and their needs as a caregiver, how often I hear “Oh, I’m not actually a caregiver, I just help out.” Huh? That is exactly what a caregiver is!
caregiver helping elderly woman with bills
What constitutes a caregiver? A caregiver is anyone who provides physical, emotional or financial support to a loved one on a consistent basis. The big misconception here is that most people think being a caregiver means that the care receiver is completely dependent on the caregiver(s). But, in reality, caregiving actually comes in varying degrees of assistance provided rather than all-or-nothing.
What difference does it make whether or not a caregiver self identifies as such? Well, research shows that people who self-identify as caregivers do a much better job at caring for their ill and aging loved ones.
When a person self-identifies as a caregiver, they are:
-More proactive in the type of care they provide to their loved one. The National Family Caregivers Association found that over 90% of family caregivers took a more proactive role when they self-identified as caregivers versus just “helping.”
-More confident in their ability to discuss health-related issues with their loved one’s healthcare team. More than 80% of family caregiver who self-identify as caregivers had more confidence in talking with their parent’s health providers about their condition. This led to attending more doctor appointments, doing outside reading, asking pointed questions and feeling involved in their loved one’s health care plan.
-Much more likely to look for and utilize the available resources within the family or in the local or larger community. Self-identifying caregivers more readily tap into local and national resources that could benefit their loved one.
Are you a caregiver?
Here is a simple and quick little quiz to take that can help you identify if you are a family caregiver:
  • caregiver walking elderly woman in hospitalI take time off from work to accompany my loved one to a doctor’s appointment.
  • I assist my loved one with their grocery shopping.
  • I help my loved one with their finances.
  • My loved one calls me nearly every day with a question or problem.
  • I changed vacation plans to accommodate the needs of my loved one.
  • I reduced my work hours or took family leave to help ensure my loved one was well
  • cared-for.
  • I wake up at night worrying that my loved one is OK.
  • I often call on behalf of my loved one to ask a question about a bill or to clear up confusion about a product or service.
  • I’ve neglected time with my family and friends to help my loved one
  • I haven’t been able to take part in hobbies or recreational activities because of the time I spend caring for my loved one.
If you answered true to any of the above statements, congratulations! You are a family caregiver.

 caregiver's hand holding elderly person's hand
Now What?
Recognizing your role as a family caregiver is the first step. Now it is time to prepare yourself for the journey that you are already on. Remember that being a caregiver will become impossible if you do not also care for yourself.
Here are a couple of great links:
Learning to Thrive, not just Survive:  This is one of the best short videos I have seen about how to take care of yourself when taking care of others, and how important it really is. While the study looked at caregivers of women battling breast cancer, the message pertains to every caregiver’s journey.
Find  Your Local Office for Aging: Every county in NY state has a local Office for Aging and Disabilities Resource Center. They have tons of information about resources in your area as well as answer questions you may have.  Use this link to find yours.
AARP Family Caregiver Support: AARP has some great resources about ways to take care of yourself while taking care of those you love.
Or call your local Interim HealthCare Office. We are always here to help!
Blessings friends!
Interim HealthCare of the Capital Region, with offices in Albany and Glens Falls NY, is your local Homecare provider offering licensed nursing, personal care, and staffing services in Upstate NY for over 47 years.

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