A caregiver is a person who has taken on the responsibility of looking after someone who is unable to care for himself or herself fully due to illness, frailty, disability or a mental health problem. This person could be a family member, partner, relative, friend, or neighbour.
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.” – by Rosalynn Carter
Your caregiving role may start upon your loved one's diagnosis of a medical condition, or after an incident such as a fall or a heart attack.
As someone who is taking care of your loved one, you may provide support to the person’s day-to-day activities, medical needs, emotional needs and may need to make key decisions on behalf. The degree of involvement may vary according to the needs of your loved one.
The needs can be broadly categorised below:
You can be prepared for the caregiving journey by understanding your loved one’s condition, treatment, management and progression. Knowing who and where to seek help from can reduce uncertainties and avoid burnout. Recognising your own needs and capabilities as a caregiver help you to find a balance between work, caregiving and your personal time.
It is important to consider your loved one’s care preference and to include him/her in the planning and decision-making process. Bring the different family members together to discuss the care arrangement and workload.
For instance, one family member could be handling financial affairs and another providing daily care. Knowing their preferences for certain tasks can make assigning roles easier, and reduce caregiving stress. To minimise miscommunication and mismatched expectations in caregiving, there should be constant updates on the matters of your senior. Be more forgiving and understanding of each member’s caregiving role as they may face challenges that you may not know of.
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