Why Family Caregivers Are Heroes — And How To Help Them

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Why Family Caregivers Are Heroes — And How To Help Them

Caregivers are heroes because they're selfless and do so much for people in need. Doctors, nurses, and first responders are people who choose a career of service, helping others in their duties. They're trained to work in difficult circumstances.

Professional caregivers are on the frontlines protecting the public from the consequences of disease and other disasters. It's a noble profession that society can't do without.

If you're such a person, then thank you for your service!

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Can you imagine having a job that requires your full attention 24/7 and has no pay?

The jobs of many family caregivers are such positions. These jobs often go unnoticed, are full time with virtually no breaks, and no wages! 

Who are these caregivers?

These jobs are usually filled by family members who feel duty-bound to care for someone they love.

It's not uncommon for people to have loved ones who require intensive attention. A parent who cares for a disabled child, a son or daughter who cares for a sick or challenged parent, and a spouse who cares for their partner are just some examples of family caregivers. 

You or someone else in your family may be such a person: One who is willing to devote their time to a failing or dependent individual.

Furthermore, caregivers may not have any training in caregiving. While they have a strong desire to care for their family member out of love, the situation can still leave caregivers feeling trapped.

Many times, a person becomes the caregiver in the family by default.

Perhaps they haven't yet started their career, they're starting over in life, are retired, or simply in a place in their life where others perceive them as being the most available person for the job. The position is often thrust upon them, and once the care is started, it's difficult to stop.

Caregiving is heroic.

The family caregiver is someone who takes on challenges that others are either unwilling or unable to do.

It's a job that is fraught with many unknowns encountered on a regular basis. There are financial, medical, and other practical considerations that are handled daily.

Even for those who have healthcare training, there's no direct training for family caregiving, and the compensation may just be free room and board if that!

If you're in this situation and you have another job, it further heightens your stress and lowers the care of the one in need.

It's often the case that you need to live with aging parents to care for them. In addition to the stress of caregiving, you may have the additional pressure that comes from other family members’ resentment because you're seemingly living "rent-free" in the family home.

This is just an example of another source of conflict that cannot be easily solved. These types of dissensions only add to the exhaustion of continuous caregiving.

You may be put in the awkward position of being the family hero during their time of need and despised by them the day after the job is done.

It's a hard, unrelenting job, and you won't have any time for yourself. You won't have the time to pursue personal relationships, and you may not be able to find any other work to make money.

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You may want to consider respite care.

Respite care is an option for short-term relief to the primary caregiver. It's difficult to find but is starting to become a more commonly recognized need.

The frustration of being with a person needing constant care can be overwhelming. It's important to seek some help to give you relief from your duties, even just for a few hours.

Being the family caregiver is not all bad. You'll have the satisfaction of knowing your life had purpose and that you were supportive of your loved one.

Usually, they're very appreciative. The accomplishment of comforting someone in their time of need is truly heroic.

The primary reason these situations are common is that the type of care needed for a loved one is incredibly expensive. Another reason is that finding quality individuals is difficult.

If you employ outside care, you may feel guilty for not being there for your family member.

Chronic issues involving family members may take many years to resolve. Sometimes, there's never a solution.

When it's time to resume a normal life, you'll face new challenges. If you've never worked outside of the home or haven't for a long period of time, you may not have marketable skills. If employment is available, it may be entry-level only.

When a caregiver has placed their life on hold for others, oftentimes the person who received the care leaves their assets to them. Sometimes, other members weren't informed and don't believe that the division of assets was fair. This can cause additional resentment within the family.

Circumstances are unique to every occurrence, but it's necessary for all parties to remain reasonable. If not, a family can be permanently damaged. It's a tragedy upon the tragedy of the loss of a loved one!

What is the solution?

When it becomes necessary for a family caregiver to devote their life to a loved one, communication is key.

It's necessary to create a plan for all the involved parties. This is often a hard proposition since many issues are difficult to discuss and resolve.

The hitch with deferment is that challenges can fester until they become irreconcilable.

When difficult issues arise, sibling rivalries and other family dynamics must be placed aside to deal with the impending dilemma. Sometimes this isn't possible because emotions may already be damaged.

For those families who discuss the needs for the “greater good," problems can be more easily managed and successful results can be obtained.

It's important for everyone to do something toward solving the tough problems and to be magnanimous. You probably didn't sign up to be the family caregiver, but the person who needs the care didn't sign up for that, either.

Personal caregiving may be the most difficult profession there is, and it's done by those of us who have the least amount of training or support. This heroic job is usually thrust upon someone who's unprepared for the responsibilities and the skills needed for it.

When a problematic care issue is presented to a family, it's necessary for everyone to communicate and create a plan of action.

The plan needs to be thoughtful of all parties, especially for the one needing care. The caregiver needs to be respected, and this person needs to return respect through their actions. The plan may need to be reviewed periodically.

It's crucial to make the best of a difficult situation.

Difficulties arise in all families, but when everyone has a share in solving problems, the weight of the situation isn't as great.

A chronic problem involving intensive caregiving is challenging and can bring out the best and worst of a family. The families that work out solutions create win-win results.

A bright perspective of a chronic issue facing your family is that you were available to do the job. Many people are simply abandoned because no one was available to give care.

If you've been in these circumstances and were the one who stepped up, then you deserve a huge, “Thank you.” You are truly a hero!

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John Cappello is a natural psychic medium who has been in practice for over 25 years.

This article was originally published at John Cappello. Reprinted with permission from the author.