Why do you want to be a caregiver?
If you love somebody, you will become a caregiver. If you live long enough, you will need one.
Caregiving often doesn’t come as a choice. When a family or fellow community members cannot lead normal lives as they once could and need assistance or require round-the-clock-care, whether because they are old, disabled, injured, become chronically or terminally ill – people around them need to handle it. For most, it’s a new situation that they are forced to accept and find ways to deal with it. In fact, the latest research shows that 53% of the family caregivers in the USA feel as they didn’t have a choice in taking on this role. For others, it’s a decision they willingly took to help a family member or friend, a pure act of love and altruism. The other group are professional caregivers who chose caregiving as their career.
Regardless of the type, caregivers form a vital and irreplaceable cog in any community. Still, they do not get the recognition they deserve for their excellent and necessary work. The burden they carry in both financial and personal sense is heavy, and their sacrifice is often unseen. We need to address the help for caregivers more profoundly, because if not taken care of correctly, we may be facing imminent collapse.
If you question yourself why you want to be a caregiver, you probably come from these background stories:
- You found yourself in a situation where the role of caregiver was imposed on you, and you are looking for motivation to continue doing it.
- You can choose if you want to accept becoming a caregiver for a family member or friend in need.
- You are considering caregiving as your vocation and want to become a professional caregiver.
Caregiving is challenging but rewarding, and here are some reasons to justify why you should want to do it.
What are the main reasons to be a caregiver?
You are making a significant difference in the life of someone in need.
It is not only a sense of duty and compassion. Your dedication and hard work enable your care recipients to lead as comfortable and fulfilling lives as possible. You directly improve their quality of life.
Caregiving will allow you to realign priorities.
As in all challenging situations, you will find yourself in a position to reorganize, reevaluate and realign your priorities. Some things that were important to you earlier may become less relevant. This may be beneficial not only for your care recipient but also for you and others in your surrounding. You might start to appreciate more and see the value in small things that were irrelevant or went by unnoticed before.
You will forge stronger relationships.
Caregiving will connect you more deeply with the loved ones. Certainly, some conflicts and misunderstandings might arise, and you will need to find a way to resolve them and make some compromises for the better of all. On the course, you will be able to deal with many negative emotions and benefit from settling them down, both for your own good and others.
You will acquire new knowledge.
Caregiving represents constant learning. Every day brings something new. You might need to learn new things and inform yourself more profoundly of the particular issue, condition or illness you are dealing with. You will interact with health and care professionals, and you will surely pick up a skill or two that will help you manage caregiving more efficiently. It is not uncommon that caregivers complete the courses or acquire additional certifications to support their caregiving.
You will expand your social circles.
Caregiving provides you with an opportunity to interact and meet new people all the time, whether it be in your community, supportive groups devoted to the condition you are dealing with, other caregiver groups and associations, or with different health and care providers and services. Allow yourself to reach out and ask for help, advice and support. There are many more people willing to help that you would expect. There are many who were or now are in the same or very similar situation as yours, so be open for different perspectives and see how their experiences may help you.
Caregiving is emotionally rewarding.
Caregiving can often be overwhelming, but it does come with its share of very emotional and altruistic benefits. Knowing that your dedication and work makes a huge difference in someone else’s life, you will get a defined sense of purpose that concerns others. You will experience many intensely personal and intimate moments with your care recipients and your family. You will discover many new feelings. All the difficult moments you will endure, and the beautiful moments you will share with your family will make you richer and stronger as a person, and you will acquire a deep sense of fulfilment.
What are the challenges of being a caregiver?
Not asking for help.
Asking for help is not a weakness. You must understand that you cannot do everything alone. Even when you think you can, in the long run, it will cost you more than you think. Try to involve others to help you as soon as possible on the course.
It’s good when you can plan ahead and organize everything. But this will not always be possible. Maybe simply the nature of the condition or illness you are dealing with is unpredictable. Many caregivers also get frustrated when their own skills and work are insufficient to deal with caregiving efficiently. Take step by step, day by day, one thing at a time, and deal first with what you have on the plate and what is achievable.
Dealing with emotions.
This applies both for negative and positive emotions. You will have good days and bad days, and you will go through rollercoasters of different emotions. Sometimes, the load of duty will not allow you to stop, pause, and think of everything. Don’t bury them, and don’t postpone facing them. They will keep being the burden and will impact you.
This is very common for many caregivers – in taking care of others, they completely forget to take care of themselves. As you will be spending most of your time with your recipient, and have many tasks, it is easy to put yourself last on your list of priorities. You have to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. To give to others, first, you must be capable of doing it. You need to be in a good place with yourself. You need to get enough sleep, eat well, and take care of your own health. Don’t forget that everyone needs some time off to reset and recharge.
Guilt is a caregiver’s worst enemy and usually is not based on reality. Never doubt about the importance and value of your caregiving. You have to know there are limits to what anyone can do. You might need to lower your own expectations. Don’t try to be and do everything – you can’t, and no one can. Being effective and doing your personal best is more than enough. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some credit, because many couldn’t do what you are doing.
Sometimes, caregiving is just too much for too long. Accumulated mental stress, physical stress and exhaustion, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression and mental issues easily lead to caregiver burnout. To prevent it, you need to allocate some time for yourself, to recuperate and alleviate tension. And we are all entitled to an occasional meltdown – so if you need to vent out in that way, do it, you will feel better afterwards.
What does it mean to be a caregiver?
Being a caregiver means you are responsible for another human being’s welfare. It’s a huge responsibility and not an easy task. It can be pressuring, overwhelming and challenging. It’s not for everyone, and that is completely understandable. But also, many who thought they couldn’t do it, discover down the road that they can and that they are great in that. Besides being of crucial importance for their care recipients, caregivers are essential for any community and irreplaceable part of health and care systems.
“Doctors diagnose, nurses heal, and caregivers make sense of it all.” Brett H. Lewis
What makes a good caregiver?
A sense of self-devotion, patience, and a genuine love of helping people are the characteristics all good caregivers have in common. You don’t need to deliver the miracles – all small things you do count. If you can create a predictable, safe and pleasant surrounding for your care recipient, and make the most of the given circumstances, that’s a big deal.
Should I hire a caregiver?
If you realize that you cannot handle everything related to the care of your loved one alone or within your family, or need more expert help, you might consider hiring a professional caregiver. They will bring a unique skillset necessary for the overall well-being of your care recipient. Depending on your locale, you might qualify for different support programs and get additional or specialized help. If your financial situation allows, you can hire an independent caregiver or seek someone through caregiving agencies.
Gherry make it easier to prioritize tasks and manage communications between everyone involved in your recipient’s health and care. Apps such as
No matter if you willingly or unwillingly became a caregiver, remember that you will undoubtedly benefit from caregiving in the long run. Your contribution to someone’s well-being makes an irreplaceable difference. The rewards you will get from caregiving are immeasurable. For your personal account, you will discover a strength you never knew you had and love you never knew it was possible. You will know you did what was in your power to make someone’s life better, and you will have no regrets. With all ups and downs, you can only become a better, stronger person.