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Becoming a Caregiver for a Family Member

Mar 10, 2024

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No one wants to see their family member in a position where they need long-term medical care and supervision but if someone you love is in need and vulnerable, it only feels natural to step up and help.

Being a family caregiver is a hugely rewarding experience and receiving care from a family member produces more positive results among patients. However, it isn’t a duty to take on lightly.

This article delves into the roles and benefits of being a family caregiver. It also highlights some of the challenges you might encounter. Consider the unique challenges and rewards to determine if being a family caregiver is something you want to do.

The Family Caregiver

As modern healthcare continues its advance, we see more people surviving with long-term health conditions. Mid-life crises like accidents and age-related conditions are also more manageable. As a result, we have more people with debilitating conditions but with longer life expectancies.

Depending on the mental and physical health of the patient, they might require long-term care and support. In most cases, people turn to professional caregivers. However, some people choose to become caregivers for their loved ones.

Whether it’s for a grandparent, a spouse, or a child, being a family caregiver is a serious responsibility but comes with high rewards. Family caregivers often describe it as a fulfilling experience that helped strengthen their familial bonds.

As wonderful as professional caregivers are, being a family caregiver provides an extra dose of support and love that can be beneficial to all parties involved.

What Does Caregiving Entail?

Caregiver duties differ from patient to patient but there are common goals and objectives shared by all.

First and foremost, caregivers help patients maintain their independence as much as possible. Whether the patient is a senior citizen or was born disabled, humans thrive when they can act independently. Caregivers help patients maintain their independence while providing comprehensive emotional and physical support. This ties into improving patients’ quality of life, another critical goal for caregivers.

Caregivers also take care of more practical tasks such as making doctor appointments, tracking medications, and aiding with daily activities like bathing and household chores. The exact level of help a caregiver provides depends on individual patient needs.

Why Being a Family Caregiver Is So Rewarding

As mentioned, being a family caregiver comes with its fair share of rewards for both patients and the family caregiver. Here are some of the main ones:

Fulfilling and Positive Experience

A study conducted in 2014 by the National Opinion Research Center compared the expectations versus the realities of being a family caregiver. While some might assume family caregivers were hiding a lot of strain under their cheerful facades, the poll proved the complete opposite.

Of the surveys of family caregivers, almost 90% reported that being a family caregiver has been a hugely positive experience. Family caregivers often noted that the experience was fulfilling and gave purpose to their lives.

Stronger Familial Bonds

In the same study mentioned above, 83% percent of surveyed individuals said being a family caregiver strengthened their bond with their loved ones. Being a family caregiver is a bonding experience with lasting, lifetime effects.

A Chance to Give Back and Peace of Mind

Many family caregivers find it to be a rewarding experience as it enables them to give back to someone who once cared for them. It also provides peace of mind as they know their loved one is in good hands and receiving the care they need.

Improved Physical Health

Being a caregiver can be beneficial to both your family members’ health and your own. A study done in 2019 revealed that caregivers have better overall health than other people in their age groups. The improved health was the result of the increased movement that is characteristic of being a caregiver.

Being in charge of another person’s health also makes caregivers more aware of their own. Many make better lifestyle choices as a result.

Caregiving Challenges to Keep in Mind

While caregiving is a rewarding experience, it’s important to understand that it can also be challenging.

One of the main struggles is time management. When you devote a lot of your time to taking care of someone else, you may start to sacrifice aspects of your own life like your hobbies and social commitments. If you have a job and care for your loved one in your spare time, it can also be very difficult to balance your time, which can be overwhelming and stressful.

Because you get so caught up in helping your family members with their daily tasks and leave no room for your own activities, you can end up feeling quite isolated over time.

Caregiving can also take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. If your family member has a chronic condition like dementia, it can be emotionally distressing. On the other hand, if you have to help your loved one with a lot of physical tasks, it can strain your body.

That said, these are manageable challenges. With good communication and a loving support network, you and your family members can make it work.

Should you decide to be a family caregiver, it’s important to be transparent and share your experience with friends, family, and healthcare professionals. Build a solid support network and don’t hesitate to ask for help, whether it be emotional or financial assistance, when you need it.

We also highly recommend joining a caregiver support group so that you can talk to people in similar situations. Here you can discuss any struggles you’re facing and get the support and resources you need to maintain a healthy balance between caregiving and your own life.

How to become a family caregiver in Pennsylvania

The first step is to assess your loved one’s needs and your own capabilities. Understanding the level of care required, whether it’s assistance with daily activities, medical tasks, or emotional support, will help you determine the best way to proceed. It’s essential to be realistic about what you can handle, both physically and emotionally, and to seek support when needed.

Once you’ve assessed the situation, explore the resources available to you in Pennsylvania. The state offers various programs and services to support family caregivers, including respite care, caregiver support groups, and training programs. Taking advantage of these resources can provide you with valuable assistance, information, and a network of people who understand what you’re going through. Additionally, familiarize yourself with any legal and financial considerations, such as power of attorney or accessing Medicaid benefits, to ensure you’re prepared for the responsibilities ahead.

At 365 Health Services, we can help you navigate the complexities of becoming a family caregiver. We offer a paid orientation to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide quality care, ensuring you feel confident in your role. Additionally, we provide weekly pay and other benefits to support you financially while you dedicate your time and energy to caregiving. With 365 Health Services by your side, you can focus on what truly matters: providing compassionate care to your loved one while maintaining your own well-being.

Final Thoughts

Being a caregiver for a family member is a tough but rewarding experience. Most family caregivers find it to be a positive experience that gives their lives purpose and helps them form stronger bonds with their family members.

If you’re thinking of becoming a family caregiver, make sure that you have a good support network you can lean on when you need to. You don’t want to let your well-being fall by the wayside while you care for your family member.

When you’re ready to take the next step, we’re here to help. 365 Health Services offers professional support and training so that you can be the best caregiver for your loved one.

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