Family caregivers face unique challenges: not only are they accountable for the health and well-being of their loved one, they must manage the emotional impact involved with helping a spouse, sibling or child handle an illness or chronic condition. It isn’t easy to take on the responsibility of becoming the main caregiver, whether the role grows gradually or comes as the result of a sudden change in the health status of the loved one.
No matter the cause or the circumstances, family caregivers deserve respect and the resources needed to cope, and these four guidelines can help.
- Recognize Your Caregiving Role
Many family caregivers don’t give themselves the credit they deserve. They don’t call their role what it is – a caregiving role – but simply state they are doing what any partner, child or sibling would do for their family member.
This mindset undermines their commitment and self sacrifice. Even when family caregivers are paid for their time, they might diminish their own contributions either internally or externally.
It’s important for family caregivers to see themselves as caregivers for their own mental and emotional health, but also for many medical and legal reasons. As a person who is not only entitled to legal information involving their loved one’s medical records, they are a constant presence in the patient’s daily life, so they have much to offer in terms of helping the medical team form a comprehensive plan for care.
- Don’t Neglect Self-Care
Besides gaining perspective on their own role, family caregivers have to recognize that they cannot commit 24/7 to this role. They must take time for rest and rejuvenation. This makes them a better caregiver over the long term.
While taking on a caregiving role does not affect all individuals the same, the American Psychological Association reports that family caregivers have a higher risk of developing depression and other physical health issues. It’s vital for the main caregiver to focus on their own healthy eating, adequate sleep, exercise routine and attention to their own illness if they happen to become sick.
- Join a Support Group
Dealing with the emotional effects of watching a loved one go through a trying medical period is difficult, but experiencing the pain and feeling frustration on a daily basis adds to the stress.
There are many helpful support groups for family caregivers where they can ask questions, share their thoughts and find comfort in the friendship with others in similar positions. While it won’t solve every issue, engendering a support system for the caregiver is key to the quality of care they will be able to provide their loved one.
- Investigate Helpful Insurance Options
All family caregivers who currently commit to near around-the-clock care should look into their loved one’s insurance coverage and find out if they can receive compensation for their own work, or if the policy will pay for outside help. Supplemental long-term care policies provide many options for either in-home nursing or daily visits to a residential facility.
Find a trusted insurance specialist to help you find answers – call My Senior Health Plan today and put the well-being of family caregivers as a priority.