People who share their misconceptions about caregiving only offer to provide distractions to family members who are attempting to find caregiving services for their loved ones. Quite possibly these misconceptions could also distract or deter someone from becoming a caregiver. First, and foremost, the focus should be on safety and wellbeing of the individual requiring care. I offer the following views in an effort to dispel the misconceptions another might be making about caregiving:
All caregivers are adults
This is not true. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 1.4 million American children between the ages of ages 8 and 18 are either responsible for, or assisting an adult, with the care for an adult relative. That is a staggering number of young people who may be forced to forego their childhood.
Men are not caregivers
More than 75% of all caregivers are female. Today it is becoming more common for men to assume the role of caregiving for their parents of a spouse. The financial burdens associated with hiring people to assist with care, or the cost of private facility care, has caused more men to learn and embrace the role of sole caregiver.
While females still shoulder the major percentages of being caregivers, more and more men are finding themselves at the center of being a sole caregiver. The data from AARP and the Alliance of Aging tends to tip in favor of the female caregiver, hence the misconception that men do not provide care to loved ones. Men do provide care to their loved ones.
Caregivers primarily provide medical care
One of the most common misconceptions of caregiving is that family caregivers primarily provide medical care. According to AARP and the United Hospital Fund statistics, 46% of family caregivers perform duties daily which are deemed medical or nursing tasks. These duties can be as simple as administering medications or daily monitoring of chronic care conditions such as diabetes, lupus, congestive heart failure, etc. with a goal to achieve quality of health. These caregivers often communicate with medical professionals to disseminate information and receive instructions to properly perform these duties. The data shows that 95% of caregivers assist with routine daily living activities such as personal hygiene, bathing, dressing or preparing meals and assuring the safety and wellbeing of their loved one.
Nursing homes provide the best care
One of the most common misconceptions of caregiving is the best care is provided in a skilled nursing environment, or nursing home. That is not true. Nursing homes are for-profit businesses. Many nursing care facilities in our communities are old with outdated equipment and do not maintain sufficient staffing levels or have adequate financial resources to ensure residents receive proper skilled care. Newer nursing care facilities charge upward from $9,000 monthly for a semi-private room taking them out of the reach of most people. Newer facilities are also generally understaffed, and the care may not be optimal. In other words, you don’t get what you’re paying for in a new facility.
As mentioned in my book, my cousin and I visited 40 facilities when looking for an assisted living facility for our aunt before finding the right one. My sage advice is to let your nose and eyes be the judge. If the facility smells or there are no smiles on the residents’ faces – leave.
Caregivers hate what they do
Caregiving is a tough gig make no bones about it – but it is rewarding and there is a true joy that resonates from people who are or have been caregivers. The fact is that not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver. Some people do hate the idea of giving up their social life and free time to care for someone else. Some people simply cannot afford to do it and to do so would harbor resentment.
I loved my mother and freely chose to become her full-time caregiver. It was a rewarding experience and I never regretted the love, time, effort, and energy I dedicated to my mother. In the end, I became a better person for having given of myself, my time and, most especially, my love over nine and a half years.
Caregiving provided me the opportunity to grow, to improve, and to conquer fear and challenges. Through my caregiving journey, I became a stronger, more resilient, and more caring human being.