Are you a caregiver? You may not consider yourself a caregiver, but do you regularly:
Drive a family member, friend or neighbor to doctor's appointments?
Make meals for someone?
Help someone with household chores such as cleaning, grocery shopping, lawn
Make regular phone calls to someone to "check in" on them?
Provide hands-on care, including bathing, help eating, toileting, or other
Help someone make decisions about medical decisions?
Assist someone with personal business affairs, such as bill paying?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions you may be a family
Caregivers provide support to someone who needs help. It doesn't matter how
many hours per week are spent providing support. Caregivers may live with the
person they are caring for, providing assistance with daily needs, or may visit
the person weekly or call regularly. Being a caregiver involves an investment
in time, energy and support.
There are about 10 million people in the U.S. -- mostly women – who have chosen to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a grueling job in itself, but many aren’t only caregiving. They’re also raising kids of their own -- and maybe working – at the same time.
“You’re already a parent to your children, and then suddenly you have to become a caregiver to your parent,” says Donna Schempp, LCSW, program director at the Family Caregiver Alliance in San Francisco. “It’s very hard to...
What it means to be a caregiver at the end of life
Dying is a natural part of life, and may be filled with mixed emotions, and
times of reflection for both the dying person and caregiver. There are losses
for both the person who is dying and the person who is the caregiver.
Caregivers often experience a variety of feelings, including:
Loss-grieving the loss of the person who is sick, and feeling a sense of
loss of your life before the illness.
Acceptance of what is happening, including your role as a caregiver with
new demands and duties.
Letting go of hopes for a long-term future with the person who is sick, of
life before being a caregiver.
Finding purpose and meaning in the experience. Providing care for someone
who is dying can be personally rewarding even in the midst of grieving losses
and balancing the demands of care giving.
As a caregiver you may need to provide for all aspects of your loved one's
comfort. People who are near the end of life have complex needs so it is
important to know various ways to provide support.
It will be very important for you to ask the person you are caring for if
they are comfortable. The health care providers need to know if they are
experiencing physical pain, breathing problems, confusion or other symptoms so
that they can work to ease the distress. By talking with the person's physician
and other healthcare providers, pain medication and other therapies can be
provided to achieve a level of comfort.
Ask your loved one if they are comfortable
If they are experiencing pain ask them to describe the pain rate it on a
scale of 0-10.
Write down everything they say and review this before you call the
physician and health care provider.
If you have specific questions, write them down too.
Write down the answers you receive so that you can refer to the information