Sometimes a caregiving situation is short-lived, for instance when an injury or illness heals quickly. At other times, the caregiving journey can last for years, or even decades. No two caregiving journeys are exactly the same, but caregiving challenges can include:
- Sleep deprivation.
- Having a living space that is cluttered with medical equipment
- Being obliged to take someone else’s special diet into consideration at every meal.
- Being responsible for another person’s medications.
- Being responsible for another person’s finances.
- Managing another person’s incontinence.
- Being deprived of socializing, exercise and travel because their loved one can no longer participate in these things.
- Caring for the physical needs of a spouse, or other loved one, whose mind has been lost to dementia, leaving the caregiver alone, yet not alone, with a grief that is uniquely painful.
- Realizing that they can’t manage without more help, but they can’t afford it, can’t find it, or are embarrassed to ask for it.
- Having to take another person into consideration when making almost all life decisions.
- Having to put off their own personal appointments.
- Being on call 24 hours a day, while never having set hours when work begins and ends
- Trying to lift more weight than they are capable of.
- Watching their retirement dreams turn into a life they never expected.
- Having to choose between buying medication for their loved one, or something else they really, really need… like groceries or their own medications.
- And occasionally… Finding out that their siblings are ok with leaving the care of their aging parent in the hands of the caregiver, while the siblings carry on with life as usual and wonder what the fuss is all about.
So, what do caregivers “get” out of caring for a loved one?
They get to know that their loved one is receiving the best care they can provide. They get to know that they are doing their best to give their loved one the experience of being loved. They get to keep their loved one with them.