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Being A Caregiver

Being a caregiver for a loved one is a unique experience in one’s life. Caregiving can be rewarding and satisfying, but can also be frustrating, exhausting and emotionally draining.

Caregiving encompasses a varied scope of involvement which can be fluid and ever changing. The caregiving experience can be affected by the relationship and history between the care recipient and the caregiver. The experience can be further influenced by whether the caregiver is male or female. The caregiving chapter is different for every caregiver and their care recipient. A caregiver who is caring for their mother may have a different experience than when caring for their spouse or their father....each and every circumstance is distinct unto itself.  

There is no right way or wrong way to be a caregiver. Some people are heavily involved in hands on care while others are not. Some people want to be at every doctor’s appointment and others live out of town and can only see their loved ones a couple of times a year. The most important part of being a caregiver is to make sure your loved one is safe and that their needs are met. It doesn’t matter if you are arranging care or performing care, it is all considered caregiving.  


One key to a healthy and fulfilling caregiving experience is communication. The caregiver needs to ask their loved one what they need as well as what they want. The caregiver needs to be able to recognize what it is that they need for themselves to ensure they can be an effective caregiver. Like the flight attendant’s safety announcements instructions, you need to put the oxygen on yourself first and then assist the person seated next to you; if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of someone else. Asking questions is a great first step. Questions posed to the doctor, questions for the loved one, questions posed to yourself, and questions asked to other family members will help set the stage to establishing open communication and keep it flowing.

Compassion Fatigue

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the duties of caregiving and perhaps become resentful. Not knowing what comes next and not being able to plan ahead can make a person frustrated. At times, caregiving can be all consuming. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is essential to carve out personal time for yourself, your family and to set some boundaries. The caregiver needs to be able to recognize when they are overcome  by caregiving. Short tempers, frustration, guilt and animosity are a few feelings that exemplify compassion fatigue. Taking a break and carving out personal time will give you an improved outlook and will allow you to continue to be an effective caregiver. Physical fitness, a healthy diet, adequate sleep and social contact are not luxuries but are essential to the caregiver’s well being.

For more information: go to Apple Care and Companion

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