What Makes a Caregiver

Just as there are multiple health problems, there is a diversity of caregivers. For the last 12 1/2 years of Arlette’s life she lived with her son, Klint, and his wife, Rosanne. When I asked my sister, Rosanne, if she’d like to be a guest author on Uniting Caregivers, she said, “I don’t feel like I’ve been a caregiver.” I was shocked. I’ve heard those same words from others and it’s like fingernails running down a chalkboard to me. If you care and you give to another, you are a caregiver!

parents_and_childrenWe all have varying responsibilities as caregivers, but just because yours are different than mine doesn’t mean you’re not a caregiver.  A parent taking care of children is a caregiver. Likewise, a child overseeing their elderly, or sick parent is a caregiver. A friend taking dinner or driving you to an appointment when you can’t do it for yourself is a caregiver. Fortunately, I see caregivers everywhere.

Rosanne and Klint both work full time running a family music business. When Arlette was no longer safe to live in her own home, they invited her to live with them. They fixed a room and bathroom for her. It was a great benefit not only for Arlette, but for Rosanne and Klint along with their children, two of which were teenagers at the time. It was wonderful to watch this family grow in love and service as they cared for and watched over Arlette for many years. To make their caregiving journey work they shared the responsibility. Arlette had professional aides who came to their home to assist her with exercises, meals and bathing, but there was so much more that went into her care.

What are some responsibilities of a caregiver?

  1. Arrange schedules and doctor appointments
  2. Provide transportation
  3. Manage insurance issues
  4. Legal assistance
  5. Financial management to assist with paying bills or providing advise
  6. Housekeeping or assistance with household duties and/or yard keeping
  7. Managing medication
  8. Full or partial assistance in transferring from bed into wheelchair or from wheelchair to car etc.
  9. Prepare meals and may need to assist with eating
  10. Assistance with dressing, bathing and other personal care

A caregiver may have all these responsibilities or just one or two of them. Some may serve as home health aide or assist and manage the professional aides. Some may be companions, while others have to take over the duties their loved one used to do, at the same time meeting the needs of other family members.

Whatever your responsibilities are, as a caregiver, you make a huge difference in another person’s life. Your influence affects how your loved one deals with their illness or limitations. Your encouragement and support greatly impacts another life. Hopefully, appreciation is openly expressed for any and all your efforts. Gratitude is often the only pay and may be sufficient if it’s given often. I’m thankful for all the caregivers in my life and grateful for their example.

What caregiving responsibilities did I miss and/or what do you find most rewarding about your journey?