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May 10, 2021 • read
Why you need caregiver support
Caregiving refers to the practice of helping someone who has some care needs because of a physical or mental health condition. For family caregivers, this caregiving is unpaid. You may be helping a partner or spouse, an aging parent, a child with special needs, a relative, a friend, or a neighbour.
What does caregiving look like?
Caregiving tasks can be straightforward such as driving someone to medical appointments or picking up or dropping off groceries or medication, which could translate into an hour or so a week. They can also be more intensive, such as helping with daily living tasks like bathing, getting dressed, and eating. Caregiving almost always includes providing emotional support. When caregiving is intensive, it’s equivalent to a part-time – or even full-time – job in addition to your other responsibilities, such as work or your own family.
These factors contribute to making the experience of caregiving more challenging than it was for previous generations. That being said, helping someone who has care needs can feel like the most natural thing in the world. If your partner or spouse has an illness or disease, you of course do your part in caring for them. Similarly, if aging parents need help with different tasks, many adult children “naturally” step up to provide care.
Why you need caregiver support, and when it’s time to reach out for help
- There is a diagnosis of a serious illness or disease, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, kidney disease, or dementia. You want to plan for what lies ahead, but don’t know where to start.
- Your parent(s) are in physical decline and you believe they need more help to manage, but they refuse to accept it. You don’t know what to do.
- Your mom or dad is exhausted from caring for their partner or spouse and you want to lighten their load.
- There is a diagnosis of dementia. You don’t know what to expect or how to respond to certain behaviours.
- You are feeling overwhelmed trying to juggle the care you are providing with your other responsibilities. You want to know how to better manage everything that’s on your plate.
- You are stuck in cycles of negative emotions, like guilt, resentment, or anger. You want to get “unstuck”.
- It’s a time of transition, from needing home care to downsizing to a move to a retirement home or long-term care home. You want to understand all the different options and attendant costs, plus how to have a conversation about this transition.
- There is conflict and tension between siblings regarding the care needs of an aging parent. You could use some strategies on how to best resolve this tension.
- You can’t stop worrying about the person you’re caring for. You want to know how you can reduce this worrying.
- You want to understand all the financial support and funding that’s available for you and the person you’re caring for.
- You need more support and outside help with caregiving so that you can focus on your paid work.
- You want your parent to be able to live safely and independently as possible at home. You need help to set this up.
- You struggle with finding balance while also providing support to someone with mental health struggles.
- The person you’re caring for is no longer able to make their own decisions about personal care or their finances.
- There’s a palliative diagnosis and you want to know more about end-of -life care.
- You’re a planner. You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can now and plan for future care needs.
You don’t have to do it alone
The comments you hear most often from people who have reached out to receive caregiver support are “I wish I had known about this sooner”, “I had no idea what support was out there for me and my family”, or “It feels so good to talk to someone about this”. There is no value in going at it alone, and no need to.