The Hardships of Taking Care of Elderly Family Members
Caregiving is embedded deep within us without our knowledge. The little services and help we provide towards family members, such as buying groceries and taking a family member to a doctor, can be identified as caregiving. Caregiving is not just a career but a commitment. It can be a tedious career but a rewarding one, most especially when taking care of elderly family members. Our parents are always there for us. They are the ones we run to whenever we need support or in anything. And time will come, where they will be the ones needing our support. Eleanor Gaccetta, the author of One Caregiver’s Journey, was also placed in the same situation. She had to retire from her earning career in order to become a full time caregiver for her mother. As a family member, care will not be the only thing provided to elderly family members but also support. Support with the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of the family member. Becoming a family caregiver is not a glamorous career. Caregiving will test our body, mind, emotions, spirit, and even our patience. Being a family caregiver means plenty of hardships will be presented along the way.
The Change of Roles
From a young age, we saw how our parents took care of us. We saw how they have given a lot of their time to raising us, providing us food, giving us the clothes on our back, and so much more. We saw how they juggle their time to provide us support and needs from infancy to adulthood. We saw how family members grew to become elderly and are now in need of our care. The help we provided might have started from feeding them to changing their clothes. And at some point, you realize that you have dedicated your all to that elderly family member. Most would not have anticipated becoming a caregiver. That is where the hardship starts. People have been so used to being taken care of instead of taking care of others. Caregiving would put a strain to the person who is not accustomed to providing care. The family member who will take care of the elder must assume the role as a parent. This can be overwhelming, however, despite the shift in roles the love one have for the parents would never change.
Caregivers are brave and strong to provide their all-out support to the ones they are taking care of. The caregivers always have a smile on their faces whenever anyone would see them. However, a caregiver’s journey is a tumultuous one. Caregiving is a fulfilling career but can put the caregivers in distress. There are numerous causes of caregivers guilt. One of which is the resentment for losing time for themselves. As a caregiver, there is an unspoken rule of dedicating all of your time towards the one being taken care of. This unspoken rule causes the guilt. Caregivers would feel guilty for thinking about themselves more than the ones they care for. This guilt will soon take a toll to the family caregiver if not dealt with immediately.
Another difficulty a caregiver would encounter along their journey is the time. Time for his or herself. Time for other loved ones. And time for friends. Being a caregiver is again a complex job. You have to dedicate yourself towards caring. You must be readily available anytime to help and provide support. This is a challenge for caregivers considering that they are their own person as well. They also need to have time for other things. Most especially for adult caregivers who have family and children. It will be a struggle to juggle all the responsibilities being thrown in their way. Friends and families of caregivers must be understanding towards the career path the caregiver has taken. This too can take a toll on them. Thus, the need for the right and understanding support system for caregivers.
The Lack of Knowledge
Most caregivers undergo training and education regarding caregiving. After receiving education from hospice program, still the lack of knowledge is a challenge. New caregivers might think that after the training and education they are now prepared for what is to come. However, one will never be prepared. There are circumstances that are not taught in training and programs. These circumstances is something that you will learn all on your own. This can cause frustrations when taking care of a family member. However, as you get by, you will learn slowly on how to manage situations that were not taught in training and educational programs. Caregiving is a learning process.
The Financial Strain
Placing elderly family members in elderly homes or hiring a caregiver can be costly. To save up on caregiving costs, families would rather opt to have a family member as a caregiver. When you care for an elderly family member, there is no need for payment. To some, taking care of elderly family members is unconditional. The care they give is somewhat payment for the years the family member has cared and supported them. However, this can cause financial strain to family caregivers. We need money to buy our needs and wants and without or the lack of financial support can be daunting.
In conclusion, there will be hardships in taking care of elderly family members. This hardships can cover physical, mental, emotional, and financial aspects. Nonetheless, caregiving may be stressful but with the love and understanding towards the one you care for, no hardship will be a caregiver’s downfall. Similar to Gaccetta, being a family caregiver you will be faced with numerous challenges but despite the challenges one will be able to recognize the special bond and time you have created with the elderly family member. Anyone will learn a lot and cherish everything in the end.