Are You a Caregiver?

Are you responsible for 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. If so, you are a caregiver.

Your role as a caregiver may have begun when your loved one was diagnosed with a medical condition or after a specific incident such as a fall or a heart attack. 

Understanding the Caregiver Role

Caregivers provide support to the person’s day-to-day activities, medical needs, the making of key decisions and emotional needs.

Many of us will have caring responsibilities at some point in our lives. The challenges we face can take many forms. Understanding our loved one’s condition, the various treatments, the ways to manage the condition and how the condition progresses helps us to better prepare and carry out our role as caregivers.

The degree of involvement or caregiver duties may vary according to the needs of your loved one and the stages of the caregiving. 

Needs of Those Receiving Care

There are, broadly, 5 categories of needs:

  1. Physical needs: Helping with daily activities, also known as Activities of Daily Living.
  2. Health and medical needs: Making sure he/she is taking medicine, going for medical appointments on time and talking to healthcare professionals
  3. Emotional needs: Showing your love and support, even during the lowest moments
  4. Spiritual needs: Helping him/her to continue his/her religious practices and belief
  5. Financial and legal needs: Managing his/her insurance and assets when he/ she is unable to do so, and planning for his/her future

Caregiving is a Team Effort

It is important to talk to your loved one and include him/her in the planning and decision-making process. Everyone in the family should come together to discuss the care arrangement and workload.

For instance, one family member could be handling financial affairs and another providing daily care. When you know their preferences for certain tasks, it can make assigning roles easier, and that can help to reduce caregiving stress and caregiver burnout.

To minimise miscommunication, disagreements, and mismatched expectations in caregiving, there should be constant updates on the matters of your care recipient.

Try to be more forgiving and understanding of each member’s caregiving role as they may face challenges that you may not know of.

Caregiver Support

Knowing who and where to seek help from can reduce uncertainties and avoid caregiver burnout. Recognising your own needs and capabilities as a caregiver will help you to find a balance between work, caregiving duties, and your personal time.

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