Growing old entails many challenges. Who is going to look after me if my children are at work? What if I have no children? Who will give me emotional support, look after my physical health, or oversee my daily living when I become aged and weak?
While these are legitimate worries of many people as they add years to their lives, they don’t have to keep you from living each day the best you can.
Whether you are someone thinking about your retirement age or you are a child of older adults whom you can’t devote your time, you may want to look into family caregivers and caregiving responsibilities.
Family caregivers are informal caregivers. They can be a family member, neighbor, friend, or relative who has a personal relationship with the care recipient.
Anyone in the family can be trained to become the family caregiver to know all aspects of family caregiving, respite care, and other human services.
Family caregivers differ from formal caregivers you can find through your doctor. They are not like a primary family caregiver specializing in the immediate need of the care recipients.
However, you can learn more about support caregivers and how you can become a primary caregiver of a loved one.
Let us find out more about the roles of a family caregiver to the care recipient and other family members. What is the scope of the health care services of these health care providers of human services?
This article will help you assess if you or other family members are up for the challenge and commitment of becoming family caregivers. Let’s look into the basics of family caregiving and how this is different from the roles of a primary caregiver.
What is a Family Caregiver?
Family caregivers provide family caregiving services when you need them the most. Family caregivers make growing old less worrisome and troublesome.
Family caregivers provide health care and personal care and look after the well-being of the care recipients all the time. Family caregivers can be elderly caregiver, dementia caregivers, long-distance caregivers, and many more.
Family caregivers are informal caregivers who have undergone training for caregiving needs.
It is a challenging role, so you must think hard about it before accepting. However, if your family is left with no option but for you to look after a family member with medical concerns, you have to learn as much as you can about family caregivers.
More than half of primary caregivers have worked at senior centers and nursing homes. Others have worked as a social worker and supportive services. Some of them have gone through complete caregiver training, while some caregivers only finished high school education.
Regardless of background and work experience, family caregivers, just like formal caregivers, share the same goal. And that is to improve the quality of life of their care recipients.
The Importance of Family Caregivers to Family Members
Despite the longer life expectancies of people in Singapore, most elderly individuals will require health and human services from their family members or a family caregiver.
While family caregivers are often associated with looking after older adults, you can become one for a sickly child, siblings, or your spouse.
You can be a good family caregiver even though you are not a nursing expert or are not known as the kindest soul. All you have to give is empathy – to the care recipient and the other family members worrying for the patient’s welfare.
Family caregivers can be domestic or local. They can be visiting, live-in, or specialize in long-distance caregiving, respite care, or other health care services.
Family caregivers play an important role in making life easier for their care recipients and family members.
As the title entails, the most important part of the job of family caregivers is to provide care.
A family caregiver can assist patients with mental health concerns by being there when no one else can. They can accompany their care recipients to their medical appointments when no other family member is up for the task.
Family caregivers serve as health professionals in assisting a patient with chronic illness or as a primary caregiver to their care recipients regardless of age and health condition.
As a health professional, family caregivers are trained to teach their care recipients about self-care and assist in their daily living to improve their quality of life regardless of their physical health, mental disorders, and other health issues.
The Common Misconception of a Family Caregiver
Family caregivers can be all-around, depending on what the family members have discussed regarding their roles. They can provide various caregiving tasks, depending on the needs of a care recipient.
However, it is wrong to assume that family caregivers can only care for one family member. Some provide family caregiving services to multiple family members.
Family caregivers are like caregivers working at assisted living facilities or a nursing home as they can provide medical care and daily living assistance to several patients.
A family caregiver provides family caregiving services to their loved ones (family, neighbors, or friends). The National Alliance for Caregiving provides the needed support for family caregivers.
The National Alliance for Caregiving understands that most people who have accepted the roles of being family caregivers do so with no paid help. This makes the work-and-life balance complicated for family caregivers.
The demands are high for these family caregivers that the National Alliance for Caregiving fears may contribute to their financial trouble, emotional and physical problems, and other health concerns.
The Bleak Side to the Mental Health of a Family Caregiver
There is a reason why the National Alliance for Caregiving continues to pursue more rights and benefits for family caregivers. Being a family caregiver is not easy, and it can take a toll on your mental health if you don’t take care of yourself.
Some family caregivers continue working for employers for a short time each day to help them make ends meet.
However, there are also those who can’t afford to leave their care recipients alone at home. These family caregivers spend their whole day assisting their loved ones with everything they need.
Aside from the family caregiving tasks, they are also often asked to do household tasks, schedule home-delivered meals or preparing meals, deal with managing finances, managing money, deal with other financial concerns, and many more.
Without the support from the National Alliance for Caregiving, it will be faster for these family caregivers to suffer from caregiver stress.
The famous phrase “It’s okay not to be okay” aptly describes family caregivers’ rollercoaster of emotions. It only becomes bearable with the support of the National Alliance for Caregiving and other concerned groups and people.
Here are some of the emotions you may have to deal with once you become a family caregiver:
You may grieve the opportunities you did not pursue, the dreams you have forgotten, or a bright future with your loved ones. You may also feel grieving for a terminally ill person you are looking after while providing end-of-life care services.
Sometimes you would feel like you have not done enough to improve the quality of life of a family member you are looking after. Or you could have been there for your care recipient often if you are into long-distance caregiving.
This is something you can’t help because you are not a saint. Caring for a sick person, even if they are a family member, is a challenge.
The care recipient is not always in a good mood or would not often have nice words to say. Such attitude may come from the physical pains they’re suffering from.
You can get angry, but make sure to vent it out to your support group or the National Alliance for Caregiving. You may be having a hard time, but just think that your care recipients’ sufferings are way higher than that.
You will understand caregiver stress once you begin your role as a family caregiver. So many things make you worry – your responsibilities, what will happen to your patients, how the other family members would react, and what will happen to your future.
Family Caregivers – Attending to Everyone’s Needs
Elderly home care Singapore focuses on care provided in the home environments. Family caregivers attend to everyone’s needs aside from the intended care recipient.
A family caregiver provides companionship to the other family members. Aside from coming with the patient to their medical appointments, family caregiving entails different aspects of the family’s daily living.
They provide help where they are needed. They can assist in looking after the patient’s physical health.
Family caregivers can also be dementia caregivers, support caregivers, assist at the end of life care, look after family members with depressive disorders, and many more.
It’s all around. You may be in a familiar environment, but the tasks become more challenging as you last in it.
You act like a social worker in your own home (or a relative or friend’s home). You are carrying out caregiving tasks even when you are not formally employed.
Look for an Assistance
Family caregivers in Singapore can check the website HealthNetCafe. It is an online caregivers’ resource with useful information about what you need to know about family caregiving.
It has a service directory for those involved in family caregiving. This will make it easier for you to look for nurse agencies, homecare suppliers, social or financial assistance, and more.
You will also find support groups at the site. They will help a lot to ensure you keep your mental health a priority while providing healthcare services to a family member.
Family caregivers differ from primary caregivers in terms of their responsibilities and care options. But their roles overlap in many ways, including in the following:
- They can provide quick medical treatment
- The roles of both professions are challenging
- They are both in demand
When hiring maid for elderly is not an option, you have to ensure that you know someone who will gladly take the role of a family caregiver.
It may be an arduous but rewarding task, especially when you love the person you are caring for. Aside from improving the quality of life of your care recipient, you are also doing other family members a huge favor.
However, no matter how complex the tasks may be, always prioritize self-care, seek the help of support groups, and keep yourself active, healthy, and happy.