Is Becoming a Family Caregiver Right for Me?

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Taking on caregiving responsibilities for a loved one is a very noble act. It can truly be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor, but that’s not to say that it won’t come without its fair share of challenges. Before you dive fully into this journey, it’s important to ask yourself a number of questions to help determine if the timing and the nature of the experience is a realistic undertaking for you. In fact, you certainly wouldn’t be in the minority if you decided to pursue this obligation as, per a statistic from Forbes, “every year, some 40 million American adults help loved ones remain in their home for as long as possible...about 1 in 4 caregivers is a part of the millennial generation”.

So the question remains - how do YOU decide if or when becoming a family caregiver is right for YOU?

Here are some specific questions to consider as you weigh the benefits and stressors of what can result in an arduous yet loving journey:

Am I financially stable enough to do this?

There may be some financial elements that you need to factor into your decision. For example, if your loved one has mobility issues, then you may need to make some accessibility modifications to your home. Do you have the funds to build a ramp, revamp your bathroom or invest in other pieces of specialized equipment? Do you need to hire in-home care to assist during certain times of the day or for specific tasks?

How will this impact my responsibility to my own family?

Some of us are innately helpers & doers. However, you have to be aware of whether or not you may be spreading yourself too thin. If you’re a younger mother or father, then you may have young children who also demand and require a lot of attention. Make sure that you take stock of how much time you realistically have to devote to your secondary caregiving responsibility on a daily basis. It’s important to ensure that you don’t impose unnecessary suffering on anyone, including yourself.

How will this impact my career & professional path?

We’ve discussed this concern before here as well as in this millennial-specific caregiver post. If you’re quickly climbing the corporate ladder early on in your professional career or an individual who is truly passionate about your vocation, then you may not be ready to take a step back or limit the time you’ve been dedicating to your job; and you shouldn’t have to.

Am I emotionally stable & ready for this?

Have you considered the strain that caregiving can put not only on your relationship with your aging loved one, but also the effects it may have on other close relationships? Have you considered your own emotional state? Your own mental state? It may be worth speaking with someone who is currently going through the caregiving journey to see what it has been like and how things are similar or different to what they’d initially anticipated. Make sure that you take the time to set your course.

Will I be going this alone or will I have a support system in place?

You may think you have super powers and, at times, that might be completely true. In fact, it is definitely true when it comes to your ability to juggle multiple people, tasks and responsibilities on a daily basis. BUT, you are still one person. One individual. And you can only handle so much on your own. So make sure that you have a care team in place to help with the heavy lifting and absorb some of the simpler tasks that can easily be passed along to someone else.

Will I be able to implement self care tactics when needed?

Can I honestly let myself know when I’ve had enough and need a break? Do I have the strength to express this to myself, to my family and to the person in need of care? As stated above, you’re only human. It’s imperative that you make and take the time to care for yourself when you need some respite. Self care is a necessity in order to perform your caregiving responsibilities to the best of your ability and in order to be true to yourself.

If you have helpful advice or other questions to contribute, please feel free to share with the community!

CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.