Are you a caregiver?

Have you done any of the following?

  • Guiding your mom in paying her monthly bills
  • Cleaning your grandfather’s house
  • Taking your neighbor grocery shopping
  • Helping your husband get dressed every morning
  • Cooking dinner for your dad
  • Checking-in with your aunt with a daily phone call
  • Managing your grandmother’s medication regime of 8 pills taken throughout the day and a daily shot of insulin

Or doing a million and one other things to help someone who can’t manage to do all the things one must do on their own then…  You are a caregiver!

The informal caregiver

Caregivers come in all forms. You may be a caregiver and not know it. It starts off slowly as you help with errands such as going to the grocery store, shopping trips, a run to the bank or sometimes dropping off a meal. Perhaps you stop by now and again to help clean the home of an elderly relative, neighbor, or friend. You become the friendly face that shows that touch of kindness that often is needed by that person.

Who is the Caregiver?

Caregivers basically help others with everyday tasks ranging from grocery shopping or driving someone to a medical appointment to taking care of someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Caregivers are husbands, wives, partners, daughters, sons, other relatives, friends, neighbors, a grandparent caring for a grandchild, parents caring for a child with special needs, a teenager helping his parents care for his grandfather, and others. A caregiver is anyone who is helping someone they care about – maybe its an older person who has chronic health conditions or an adult with a disability — with everyday tasks of living. It doesn’t matter what it is, how frequently it is done or how long it takes to do it; if they live with the person they are helping, live in the same neighborhood, live in a nearby city or across the country.

A caregiver provides the help because they want to, because they feel a sense of obligation and responsibility. They care about the person and want to do what they can to help.

Research shows that caregivers need to take care of themselves first so they can remain healthy and able to continue their caregiving roles.

Put on your oxygen mask

If this is you, know that even though all that you do may not be always appreciated, you need to know that you are doing a great thing and stay encouraged. Seek out resources, ask for help and recognize that you need to take time to take care of yourself.

If you have ever been on an airplane, the crew has instructed you – in case of emergency- to put on your oxygen mask before helping other. The same logic applies to caregiving- you can only help someone else if you are well enough to do so. You need rest, proper nutrition, exercise and socialization.

Because you do so much, you must remember to take care of you!