by Growing Needs | May 5, 2023 | Caregivers Journey, Caregiving
Rosalynn Carter, first lady of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once observed that:
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”
Without a doubt, at some point in time, we will be faced with the needs and demands of care-giving. Knowing this allows us to make some early preparations so that we have the necessary resources and abilities to cope. If you have not yet begun on your journey of care giving, this short discussion will help you get prepared for what’s to come. If you have just started on your journey of care giving, don’t skip this section as you may still find some tips and tricks that can help you cope better with the challenges that are coming.
While the specific stresses of care giving may vary from person to person, care giving burdens generally fall into a few main categories.
Depending on the amount of care your loved one requires, care giving can be costly at times. There are medical bills to pay, equipment and perishable necessities to buy and transportation arrangements to budget for. There might also be a need to hire a helper or even two; and if you need to use care services such as respite care, day care or nursing homes, it can result in high recurring costs.
Start saving up now, setting aside specific funds for future care giving needs. Consider setting up an endowment fund for care giving. You will be glad you did so when the care giving costs start to pile up.
Also make sure you have a disability insurance such as Care Shield Life in place both for yourself and for your loved one. Having a disability insurance in place can help defray the financial burdens of care giving especially in a long-drawn situation.
Time and Effort
Care-giving requires a lot of time and effort. The time and effort required will only increase over time as your loved ones grow older and become more and more dependent for assistance in performing the basic activities of daily living: washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, transferring and moving around. In some circumstances, care giving might even become a full-time, round the clock commitment.
Living with or near to our loved ones can go a long way in reducing the travel time and effort it takes to provide care. Living close to care facilities such as hospitals, day care centres, homes and other community amenities can also reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to access these resources. There may also be situations where we will need to consider right-sizing the homes of our loved ones to reduce house-keeping burdens and manage fall-risks.
As our loved ones grow older, it helps to take stock of future care needs and scenarios and make intentional and informed decisions about living locations and arrangements. Do this before any health crisis occurs as it can be quite stressful to have to manage changes in living arrangements and other care demands while coping with the crisis when it happens.
Relationships and Expectations
Care-giving needs often put strains on family relationships. Those receiving care may have expectations or preferences about how and where they would like to be cared for. These would have to be aligned with the financial and physical resources available within the family. The strains of coordinating care can be reduced when there is a clear spokesperson within the family managing the all care arrangements. This main spokesperson will need to be well supported by other secondary care givers within the family network so that they do not suffer from burn-out.
Talk it over as a family before things happen. The best time to talk things over as a family is during the calm before the storm. When a crisis happens, emotions are high and tempers can be short. Knee jerk reactions are common, but these may not be helpful in working towards long term sustainable solutions for the family. The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) provides some helpful directions for discussing an Advance Care Plan (ACP) with family members. You can access their resources here.
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.