If you are un the middle of caregiving and finding it too tough to continue; if you are just beginning caregiving and wondering what you have gotten yourself into or if you are just considering the option to become a caregiver, you need to know that caregiving is not right for everybody.

Many outsiders feel that caregiving for an aging parent or a spouse is a duty that is handed to you by way of relationship and that it is your obligation to fulfill it.  That is entirely untrue.  Even in the marriage vows the  “in sickness and in health” part does not state that you must take on the role of caregiver, only that you will uphold your vow to continue to love, honor and cherish.

Sometimes we forget that our psychological make-up is just as important as our physical make up.  For instance, I am just 5’2″ and weigh about 100 pounds.  No one would ever expect that I could easily work in profession where heavy lifting is involved.  There are times in the garden (many times) when I need help just planting a new tree!  But they might expect that I could be the caregiver of a family member  because I am a nurse.  This assumption might or might not have been true.

In some families, the role of caregiving is thrust upon the child who seemingly has no connections to prevent them from providing care: a single person with no children.  I know of one caregiver whose siblings told her that it was time for her to do the caregiving because she had been running free all her life!

Some questions that you should ask yourself before taking on the role of a caregiver (or continuing it) are:

  • Am I a nuturer ? What in my life has shown me that I am?
  • What is my primary motivation for accepting the role – family obligation, guilt, love, pressure?
  • If I need help, is there help available close by and will I ask for it?
  • Do I know my limits?  Is there money available for outside help to be called in if necessary?
  • Are you able to set boundaries and keep them?
  • Do I have my family to care for and how would they handle another person in the home?
  • Is your home appropriate for the aging parent or relative? 
  • If the home is not appropriate, can remodeling be done to make it so?
  • Is there any unresolved anger towards the person for whom you will care ?
  • Have you ever been sexually or physically abused by the care recipient?
  • Are you physically healthy and strong enough ?
  • Are there any special skills needed in caring for this person? If so, are they something you could learn?
  • Can your care recipient contribute financially and if not, can you and/or your siblings contribute to their care?
  • Are there enough support systems in your community to aid in your caregiving?

When considering whether or not to take on the responsibility of caregiving or to continue the role, the most important question to ask yourself  is what is the most loving choice for the care recipient, for you as  the caregiver and for the families involved?   Do not feel guilty about your decision if you choose a different path.  There are other ways to contribute.


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