Who are caregivers?
Caregivers are individuals who regularly look after people in need; sick, disabled, child or elderly persons. They can either be family or professional caregivers.
A family caregiver is a relative who volunteers their time to offer emotional, financial, social and psychological support to a loved one. In this regard, any of us can find ourselves in the capacity of a caregiver based on the circumstance at hand.
For instance, mothers to new born children play the role of a family caregiver, based on the kind of work that goes into the child rearing process.
Professional caregivers on the hand are those that are hired to offer care e.g. nurses. They provide the same services as the family caregivers do, and these may be carried out at home or at a facility such as a hospital, old people homes etc.
In some cases we have informal caregivers, these could be friends or volunteers who come in to help with the care.
The tasks carried out by caregivers differ depending on the need at hand. They include: bathing, brushing of teeth, feeding, administering medication, physiotherapy/ exercising.
Why care for the caregiver?
As seen above, the work of care giving is a very up close and personal task that ensures that the wellbeing of the dependent is catered for. As is, it can be challenging and demanding which may leave the caregiver burnt-out if they have no help or breaks in between the care.
What most people do not know is that even caregivers need to be taken care of because most of their time is spent on looking after others, they may easily forget to cater for their own needs.
For example, a person looking after a sick person may forget to have their meals as they work tirelessly to ensure the comfort and wellbeing of the sick person.
Their emotional well-being may be neglected in the process especially if they are handling the care on their own. They may have to deal with occasional outbursts from dependents, for example, mothers of young children may have a difficult time, which may lead to frustrations with the child or children. In extreme cases, the frustration may lead to the mother taking drastic measures to calm the child down.
Caregiving, especially in the family setting has a high risk of codependency.
Signs of caregiver stress
1. Feeling alone or deserted
2. Insomnia or hypersomnia
3. Rapid weight gain or loss
4. Feeling overwhelmed
5. Fatigue, irritability and anger
6. Feelings of sadness, anxiety
7. Overindulgence in unhealthy behaviors’ such as excessive drinking and smoking
What I can do to prevent caregiver stress
- Acknowledge feeling tired and fatigued.
- Have a support system – family and friends who care about us can help boost emotional health
- Take care of your needs- there is a popular quote that states,” you can’t pour from an empty cup”
- Ask and allow others to help where they can
- Allow others to be part of the care of the loved one
- Organize and structure your life to make the work more easier
- Find activities to do outside of caregiving
This week we honor caregivers worldwide, who work tirelessly to ensure that things run smoothly. Our doctors and medical personnel (form part of the professional caregivers)have put their lives on the line to ensure our safety in this pandemic, your efforts are seen, acknowledged and appreciated.