Caregiver is a family member or sometimes a paid help who regularly looks after the sick, elderly in the house or a disabled person and sometimes a child.
Well who can be a caregiver? The answer is all of us. We could be caregiver, or will be a caregiver in future or will ourselves require caregiving.
In reality 80% of the caregivers are women. These could be primary caregivers who stay most of the time in contact with the sick or disabled, or there could be secondary caregiver who provides either financial assistance and support intermittently/remotely.
There could be informal or formal caregivers. Formal caregiver has the legal right to decide on behalf of an adult who is mentally not in a state to take decisions for himself/ herself due to a medical condition.
What we have to discuss here is the “burden of a caregiver”.
Caregiver burden is the stress which is perceived by the caregiver due to the home care situation which could be an important predictor of negative outcome.
Why is this caregiver burden?
- well yes it’s a tireless job
- financial loss (care cost and loss of job)
- you have to provide constant care
- there is loss of joy
- emotional stress
- fear of being judged
- thankless job
- and of course grief due to anticipatory loss
How can we support the caregivers :
- acknowledged the efforts & appreciate them
- address the information as and when required
- Professional support
- identify the strengths and challenges of the situation (effective communication)
- empower the caregiver
- Have a care plan for the caregiver
Some directions to make it easier include:
- understand what they already know and what they need to know
- avoid confusions with re-discussion
- decision making should be a shared effort
- care plan should be accepted by all including the caregivers
- make them aware of the eventualities by the knowledge and of-course enhancing their skills
- there should be despite and diversion activities
- assisting with meals, personal care and transportation wherever feasible
All these measures could be a small measure to ease the bigger picture. Atleast there may be the feeling of being needed or the knowledge that they have acquired new skills. Amen !!