Understanding the Responsibilities of a Family Caregiver

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Understanding the Responsibilities of a Family Caregiver

As a loved one ages and begins to need help getting around or doing other actions throughout the day, you may consider bringing a caregiver into the picture. The ideal situation for your aging spouse or loved one may be to have you fill that role. As someone with an appreciation of who they are and a familiarity with getting older, you could offer comfort that less familiar caregivers could not.

Understanding the responsibilities of a family caregiver is crucial when considering accepting the task. Let’s explore some of the goals of a family caregiver to help decide if you’re the right caregiver for your loved one.

Making Life Livable

The most important role of a caregiver is to help improve a loved one’s quality of life. Each caregiving situation is different, and the caregiver’s daily activities tend to change over time. Whether only on rare occasions or daily, a caregiver helps with cleaning, getting around, and preparing meals. These daily life activities are crucial to the general well-being of the person they’re helping.

Sometimes, you need to balance a desire for independence with a realistic understanding of your loved one’s capabilities. Helping your mom or dad with seemingly trivial things, especially if they’re stubborn or proud, is an uphill battle at times. However, it’s the existing relationship that makes your choice to become a caregiver so impactful. You know your loved one better than anyone else.

Adhering to Physician Advice

As a caregiver, you have the important task of ensuring that your loved one adheres to medical advice. You must determine if your loved one is making the best decisions possible, or at least the decisions you believe they intend to make. Depending on the situation, this process can be as simple as checking in each day with light discussion or as intensive as monitoring medications. Remember that you, your loved one, and their physician are working towards the same goal—a better life for your loved one.

Decision-Making for End-of-Life Care

Your loved one often has the final say in the move to hospice care. Their caregiver and healthcare team must prepare for this option should their condition worsen. This aspect is among the most taxing responsibilities of a family caregiver, as it requires you to end curative care and transition to care focused on end-of-life comfort. You play a crucial role in helping pick the right hospice facility for your loved one and ensuring that their care meets their physical, emotional, and even spiritual needs.

Taking up the role of caregiver isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Have an honest discussion about your goals and capabilities with your loved one before taking on the task. Although being a caregiver for a family member is deeply rewarding, it can also be a difficult task for someone over 50. Consider speaking with your loved one’s physician as well to learn more about whether this role is right for you to fill.

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