COMMENTARY: How do I know if I'm a caregiver?
So often I meet people in the community who start to tell their story and when I say, "You do know you are a caregiver, right?" they will often disagree and say that "I am doing what any good husband/wife/child would do in this situation."
So here is what the definition of a caregiver looks like, according to Wikipedia: "A caregiver or carer is an unpaid or paid member of a person's social network who helps them with activities of daily living. Caregiving is most commonly used to address impairments related to old age, disability or disease or a mental disorder."
Typical duties of a caregiver might include taking care of someone who has a chronic illness or disease, managing medication or talking to doctors and nurses on someone's behalf; helping to bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled or taking care of household chores, meals or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone. If you are providing even one of these areas for a family member, neighbor or friend, you are a caregiver.
This can be and is a very taxing job, and most times people are working at a paid job and providing caregiving help besides. When a person is amid this role, they are not aware of the impact that it is having on relationships, their own health and possibly the other responsibilities they are trying to juggle.
With an increasing aging population in all developed societies, the role of caregiver has been increasingly recognized as an important one, both functionally and economically. Recognizing the importance of keeping the caregiver healthy, many organizations which provide support for persons with disabilities have developed various forms of support for carers as well. There was a study done that showed anyone who is caring for someone with a form of dementia and does not take time to care for themselves has a 50 percent chance of developing some form of dementia themselves.
You have to take care of yourselves, too. Compare yourself to someone who received information whenever flying on a plane: Always put the oxygen mask on first so you can help the others around you.
Give me a call and let's discuss whether you are a caregiver and how we can help make life a bit more manageable.