During this family caregiver series, we’ve been exploring various issues associated with family care giving. In my last two posts, I discussed ways you can be your own advocate and why this is important. Today, we uncover the myths and fears about needing care. Many of my clients are concerned about how decisions will impact them from a financial, emotional, physical and spiritual perspective. This post sets the stage and the remaining 5 posts in this section will address each of these issues in more detail.
Myths and fears about giving care
- Care giving equals stress. It’s absolutely true care giving can be stressful, this isn’t the entire experience; or at least it doesn’t have to be. You can use this experience as an opportunity to get closer with your loved one and do activities together that help bring about love and peace. While your job isn’t to make your loved one happy, it’s natural to want them to be as happy and comfortable as possible. Just remember that you aren’t responsible for their happiness and care giving can be rewarding.
- Your job is to let them do what they want; after all they are adults too. There is no question that the changing roles of family members is tough when care giving comes into play. When I became a caregiver, in many ways, I was a parent for my parents. This isn’t easy for anyone. Being careful about the changing roles is prudent. However, this doesn’t mean letting them do what they want when they want if it is to the detriment of their health and safety.
- Love is all you need. Love is needed (or at least desired for mutual benefit) but it’s not the end all. Much more is required than love to make care giving work, to keep your loved one safe, to help provide the best care and so on. Love may see you through but you need a lot more than love to get there.
- The professional medical community will take care of all his/her needs. Our care doesn’t stop with deciding where to place a loved one or filling their medications every week or taking them to the occasional doctor’s appointment. Remember that nobody cares more about your loved one’s quality of care than you and your loved one. Coming in a close second is the medical community. Remember, you must be an active advocate and work together with doctors to make it work smoothly.
- Money is no object. Insurance will pay for everything. We’d all like to think that we would do anything to take care of a loved one; such as change homes to ensure accessibility, putting them in the best place possible, etc… Be very careful about the financial implications of giving care. I spent my savings taking care of my family during my care giving years and it took its toll on all levels. Plan ahead and be thoughtful about your options. Regarding insurance~ make sure you keep tabs on what is paid for and covered and what isn’t. This is important because insurance does NOT always pay for everything and you must be diligent (preferably ahead of time, if possible) in ensuring insurance is on top of things.
- You can take care of you later. Your job is to provide care and take care of all of their needs regardless of impact on you. FALSE! This isn’t how it is supposed to be and your loved one would NOT want you to sacrifice your well-being for any reason. Giving all of yourself to the detriment of your health doesn’t prove anything to anyone. You must exercise self-care. You can’t take care of anyone else when you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Remember that there are no right or wrong answers and every situation is different. Keep these things in mind as you journey through care giving and, I hope, you learned at least one useful thing you can take away from this article.
Next up ~ Part 6: 5 ways you must keep your loved ones safe
- Balancing independence and safety (Day 14)
- Physical safety (Day 15)
- Financial safety (Day 16)
- Emotional safety (Day 17)
- Spiritual safety (Day 18)