From the moment we are born, our parents are tasked with taking care of us. They do their best to protect and educate us as we move from childhood to adulthood and it’s all we really know. But for many, these roles can change overnight. When your parent needs regular care due to a chronic illness, stroke, or general limitations, you are no longer just the son or daughter that looks to his/her parent for guidance. In fact, you are now taking on the new (and difficult) job of being a family caregiver.
Why is it Important to Recognize Yourself as a Caregiver?
You may not realize it but even just spending a couple of hours a day with someone or coordinating their care is considered caring for them. The delivery of care is not only tied to medicine but encompasses all of the essential components of:
- Spending time with a loved one
- Helping to clean, update, or modify a home
- Bringing someone to-and-from the doctor’s office
- Preparing healthy meals on a regular basis
- And so much more
Being a caregiver requires you to make difficult decisions that you may not be able to make impulsively. Instead, a caregiver needs to be able to separate emotion from decision-making. This is easier said than done. Defining and compartmentalizing a relationship from friend, son, daughter, or spouse to caregiver can be the most significant challenge but the first step is recognizing your new role as caregiver.
Did you know:
- More than 65% of older people who need long-term care rely solely on family and friends
- Women make up to 59% to 75% of family caregivers
- There are approximately 65.7 million informal caregivers (29% of the U.S. adult population) providing care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged.
- Daughters step up twice as often as sons, regardless of job status, child-care duties, and other variables (source).
These numbers illustrate just how many caregivers are out there. If you purposely or unknowingly exclude yourself from the caregiver community and title, you are limiting yourself. This is because if you don’t know you are a caregiver, how would you know to look for resources or that you could be taking advantage of caregiver support systems and possible tax or financial benefits?
Taking on this role as caregiver will be challenging and often times thankless. With that said, there are resources available to you and it is important to recognize that you are not alone. Remember to take time for yourself for your mental and physical well-being. You need to start somewhere and taking the first step to recognize the true nature of your role will help you, as well as your aging loved one.