Primary caregivers are essential to hospice care. It is the caregiver’s commitment that enables a loved one to remain in his or her home during the final months of life. Caring for a family member or friend is not easy, nor is it something for which most of us are prepared.
End-of-life caregivers say that, although the caregiving journey is not an easy one, there are opportunities for finding meaning and purpose along the way. One caregiver likened caregiving at life’s end to a hike up a steep mountain: “The path may get rocky, the weather may turn dark, you may lose your stamina at times, but the view along the way will affect you in profound, life-changing ways.” When you reach the end of this journey, many caregivers say, you realize that the difficulty of the journey made the view that much more beautiful.
Being a caregiver can be emotionally demanding, physically challenging, and sometimes overwhelming. For this reason, the decision to become a caregiver should not be taken lightly.
Some of the things you should ask yourself before becoming a primary caregiver are:
- Are you accepting this responsibility because you want to?
- Can you cut back on your other responsibilities in order to devote a great deal of your time to caring for your loved one?
- Do you have the physical stamina to hold up to the demands of caregiving?
- Will caregiving jeopardize your own health?
- Are you willing to allow your loved one to be an active participant in decisions about his or her care?
- Is there anything about your relationship with the person you will care for that will make caregiving difficult?
- Do you feel you have sufficient support of friends and family to enable you to also take care of yourself?
- Are you willing to accept the help of others and allow yourself respite?
The team of professionals and trained volunteers at Hospice of Jefferson County is here to support you as a caregiver.
For information on how to be a supportive caregiver, go to hospicenet.org