Updated: May 25, 2020
Family Caregivers Have Always Been Heroes!
Today we celebrate caregivers because they are selfless and do so much for people in need. Doctors, nurses, and first responders are people who choose a career of service, helping others in their duties. They are trained to work in difficult circumstances.
Professional caregivers are on the front lines protecting the public from the consequences of disease or some other disaster. It is a noble profession that society cannot do without. If you are such a person then thank you for your service!
However, can you imagine having a job that requires your full attention 24/7 and has no pay? The jobs of many family caregivers are just such positions. These jobs often go totally unnoticed, are full time with virtually no breaks, and do not receive wages! They are usually filled by family members who feel duty bound to care for someone they love.
Who are these caregivers?
A parent who cares for a disabled child, a son or daughter who cares for a sick or challenged parent, and a spouse who cares for their partner, are just some examples of family caregivers. It is not uncommon for people to have loved ones who require intensive attention. You may be an unsung who has placed your life on hold to care for another.
You or someone else in your family may be such a person, one who is willing to devote his or her time to a failing or dependent individual. Furthermore, you or your family member may not have any training in caregiving. While you may feel a strong desire to care for your family member out of love and concern for them, the situation can still leave you with the feeling of being stuck or trapped.
Many times, a person becomes the caregiver in the family by default. Perhaps they have not yet started their career, they are starting over in life, they are retired, or they are simply in a place in their lives where others perceive them as being the most available person for the job. The position is often thrust upon them, and once the care is started, it is difficult to stop. This may sound familiar to you.
The family caregiver is someone who takes on challenges that others are either unwilling or unable to do. It is a job that is fraught with many unknowns encountered on a regular basis. There are financial, medical, and other practical considerations that are handled daily.
Even for those who have healthcare training, there is no direct training for family caregiving, and the compensation may just be free room and board, if that!
If you are someone in this situation, and you have another job, it further heightens your stress and lowers the care of the one in need. It is often the case that you need to live with aging parents to care for them. In addition to the stress of caregiving, you may have the additional pressure that comes from other family member’ resentment because you are living, rent free, in the family home. This is just an example of another source of conflict that cannot be easily solved. These types of dissensions only add to the exhaustion of continuous caregiving.
You may be put in the awkward position of being the family hero during their time of need and despised by them the day after the job is done!
If this sounds attractive to you, then get this! It is a hard job, unrelenting, and you will not have any time for yourself. You will not have the time to pursue personal relationships, and you may not be able to find any other work to make money. If you feel that you are ready to sign up, there is more to consider.
Respite care is an option for short-term relief to the primary caregiver. It is difficult to find but is starting to become a more commonly recognized need. The frustration of being with a person needing constant care can be overwhelming. It is important to seek some help to give you relief from your duties. Even if it is just for a few hours, it will be a big comfort.
Being the family caregiver is not all bad for it can be spiritually rewarding. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that your life had purpose and that you were supportive of your loved one. Usually, they are very appreciative. The accomplishment of comforting someone in their time of need is truly heroic.
Caregiving is complicated
The primary reason these situations are common is that the type of care needed for a loved one is incredibly expensive. Another reason is that finding quality individuals to do the “dirty work” is difficult. If you do employ outside care, you may feel guilty for not being there for your family member.
Chronic issues that involve family members may take many years to resolve, and sometimes there is never a solution. When it is time to resume a normal life, you will face new challenges. If you have never worked outside of the home or have not for a long period of time, you may not have any marketable skills. If employment is available to you, it may be at an entry level position.
When a caregiver has placed their life on hold for others, it is often the case that the person who received the care leaves their assets to them. Oftentimes, the other members were not informed and do not believe that the division of assets was fair. This can cause additional resentment within the family.
Circumstances are unique to every occurrence, but it is necessary for all parties to remain reasonable. If not, a family can be permanently damaged. It is a tragedy upon the tragedy of the loss of a loved one!
What is the solution?
When it becomes necessary for a family caregiver to devote their life to a loved one, communication is key. It is necessary to create a plan for all the involved parties. This is often a difficult proposition since many issues are difficult to discuss and probably even more difficult to resolve. People will want to defer.
The hitch with deferment is that challenges can fester until they become irreconcilable. It is important when difficult issues arise that sibling rivalries and other family dynamics be placed aside to deal with the impending dilemma. Sometimes this is not possible because emotions may already be damaged and there is an impasse. However, if you keep the channels of communication open, you can say that at least you tried.
For those families who discuss the needs for the “greater good”, problems can be more easily managed, and successful results can be obtained. It is important for everyone to do something toward solving the tough problems and to be magnanimous. You probably did not sign up to be the family caregiver, but the person who needs the care did not sign up for that, either.
If you do agree to be the responsible party, you deserve some respect from others. The job is not easy, but that does not mean you have license to be negligent either. This is true in all cases. There is a two-way street and a balance that must be struck with this career. You need to do your best, and if you do not, you may deserve criticism. You must keep the extended family informed.
When everyone is “kept in the loop” there may be issues, but no one is blindsided by decisions that affect them. If everyone concerned had input at the time the decisions were made, no one can be accused of being secretive or having a hidden agenda. Everyone needs to be honest and have the finest interests of the family in mind. With communication, there is less posturing or bullying by those in the family who want control at a time when family members are emotionally vulnerable. A loss in a family should not be an opportunity for personal gain at the expense of others. Problems can be avoided with productive conversations prior to a life changing event.
We celebrate the people who are professional care givers and first responders. Their role is critical in our society. They are especially needed heroes in these times, but family care givers are unsung heroes who are usually unrecognized.
Personal caregiving may be the most difficult profession there is, and it is done with those of us who have the least amount of training or support. This heroic job is usually thrust upon someone who is unprepared for the responsibilities and the skills needed for it. When a problematic care issue is presented to a family, it necessary for everyone to communicate and create a plan of action.
The plan needs to be thoughtful of all parties, especially for the one needing care. The caregiver needs to be respected, and this person needs to return respect through their actions. The plan may need to be reviewed periodically. It is crucial to make the best of a difficult situation.
Difficulties arise in all families, but when everyone has a share in solving problems, the weight of the situation is not as great. A chronic problem involving intensive caregiving is challenging and can bring out the best and worst of a family. The families that work out solutions create win-win results.
A bright perspective of a chronic issue facing your family is that you were available to do the job. Many people are simply abandoned because no one was available to give care. If you have been in these circumstances and were the one who stepped up, then you deserve a huge, “Thank You.” You are truly a hero!
How do you approach long-term caregiving?
A little virtue from all parties at the beginning of a problem can bring a lifetime of happiness and joy. It helps the person receiving care to feel at ease knowing their offspring or extended family is at peace with the decisions that were made. There are no guarantees that all will be well, but you will find comfort in having made he attempt to be fair to all.
John Cappello is a psychic medium who has been in practice for over 25 years. You can visit his website at www.johncappello.com for more information or to set up a private consultation.