What is Family Caregiving?
Family caregiving is the bedrock upon which this country's healthcare system depends. The services provided by family caregivers represent 80% of all home care services and are conservatively valued at $257 billion a year, more than twice the amount spent on paid home care and nursing home services combined.
Family caregivers provide a vast array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services on a daily or intermittent basis.
Caregiving itself is a multi-dimensional puzzle. For some it means providing 24- hour care for someone who can't dress, feed, go to the bathroom, or think for himself or herself. For others caregiving is an emotional roller coaster because a diagnosed condition has not exhibited debilitating symptoms - yet.
Caregiving can go on for a few years or for a lifetime. It means re-evaluating finances, re-evaluating job opportunities and making compromises.
Caregiving is learning how to work with doctors and other healthcare professionals so they treat you as an important member of your loved one's healthcare team.
Caregiving is worrying about what's wrong with dad. Why is he not remembering things anymore? Why is he acting so strangely? And then when you hear the diagnosis, your immediate reaction is you wish you had never asked.
Caregiving includes learning about wheelchairs, and lifts and little gadgets that help you button a shirt.
Caregiving is wondering why no one ever asks how you are.
Caregiving is dreaming about being alone in your own house.
Caregiving involves learning about Medicare, Medicaid, social security and other public programs.
Caregiving is learning what it means to die with dignity and making sure that your loved one's wishes will be honored.
Caregiving is the joy you feel when your child with mental retardation or a developmental disability learns a new skill.
Caregiving is the joy you feel when your spouse says he/she felt good today.
Caregiving is the relief you feel when your mother decides its time to move out of the big house and into an assisted living complex.
Caregiving is hard work. Caregiving is pain. Caregiving is loving and giving and sharing. Caregiving is accepting and learning new things and going on, and on, and on. Caregiving is lots of questions and very few answers. Caregiving is being out of the mainstream.
Caregiving is all these things and a whole lot more.