Family caregivers find themselves playing many roles. In the morning, you might be a chef, cooking up food for your loved one. By noon, you’re a chauffeur, driving to appointments, shopping and picking up medications. By nightfall you’re a parent, taking care of your own children.
Family caregivers wear many hats, and sometimes, not all hats will fit just right. Often family caregivers find themselves managing a task they have no qualifications to do, but they have to. From administering medication to reading about Medicare, the life of a caregiver can be confusing and a lot to take in. Here are 10 things only family caregivers can relate to.
The caregiving journey is a unique one, but one that is relatable to others who are also on it. While duties between caregivers may differ, caregivers find common ground in the difficulty of their caregiving tasks.
- That feeling when you’re out of the loop with friends . Sure, friends may stop by or call every now and then, but your social life is nonexistent for the most part. When you’re a caregiver, your loved one is your world, and while you love taking care of them, sometimes you feel you just need a night out with friends to catch up.
- You’re tired all the time. It’s 2 am and your mom is up wandering and can’t sleep, which means you can’t sleep either. Sound familiar? Taking care of a loved one is a 24/7 job. If they need you at 2 am, you need to be awake to help them. You thought you knew what “tired” felt like, and then you became a caregiver.
- Some days are better than others. Have you ever caught yourself breaking down and crying? Or maybe you yell at your loved one when feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Being a caregiver isn’t an easy job and it’s only natural to lose your cool sometimes.
- Balancing a healthy diet is even tougher than it is for most people. We all know about the benefits of eating healthy, for sustaining energy, avoiding sickness and longer term disease, and just feeling good overall. But as a caregiver, you often find yourself so busy and stressed that you don’t have an appetite – or you’re eating everything in sight. Making time to cook a healthy meal doesn’t seem possible some nights, and when it does, you’d rather eat something simple and fast (maybe from the freezer).
- You recognize your village. You love all your family and friends, but there are simply some who rise to the occasion when your chips are down and some who don’t. For those who don’t, there may be some who have their own issues to deal with, so you can’t really blame them. Others you might find just weren’t as great a friend or family member as you thought. But when those who do help out step in, they can seem nothing short of heroic. Something as hard as caregiving forces the true colors out of everyone, for better or worse.
- Learning to say yes is hard. Sounds simple, but sometimes it’s not. Learning to admit you need help and reaching out to those around you can be difficult. You want to be able to do everything for your loved one, but it just isn’t possible. Eventually, you learn to speak up when you need a break, and learn to accept help for even the smallest of tasks.
- Caregiving is stressful. You’re never sure if you’re doing a good job. There’s no manual outlining how to care for a sick loved one. No one ever taught you how to administer medications, and what exactly is the difference between all of those medications your mom is taking? No one was taught to be a caregiver, and it’s stressful trying to learn as you go.
- Meeting other caregivers is a relief. Finally, someone who understands your situation and can offer real advice. Finding like-minded people can help you get through tough days and even be a shoulder to cry on. Plus, other caregivers make great friends.
- You learn to appreciate the small things. Your mom ate a full meal – finally! Your dad smiled today and was feeling good. Small moments can feel like big wins as a caregiver, and these are the moments you will cherish forever.
- You wouldn’t trade being a caregiver for the world. Taking care of mom or dad is hard work, but it’s rewarding and time that is otherwise lost. You do it because you love the person you are caring for so much you can’t imagine anyone else doing it. That is what being a family caregiver is all about. Family caregiving isn’t an easy job, and often, it’s not a job caregivers are prepared for. You might feel lost and alone some days, but on the good days, you wouldn’t trade caring for your loved one for the world.
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