What is a caregiver?
Families can be blood or chosen, and regardless of how that situation presents itself, caregivers can be found in any age group. A family caregiver is a relative or friend who voluntarily is helping a loved one who is disabled, chronically ill, or frail. Caregivers may be taking care of a child, an adult, or an elderly parent or relative.
A caregiver’s responsibility may vary in intensity and can include bathing, toileting, feeding, and administering medications. You may be cooking meals, scheduling medical appointments, doing laundry, and/or providing transportation to them. It could be the many subtle acts that never even register as “caregiving,” but are focused on the other’s needs, stealing the hours of the day.
Caregivers wind up exhausted and isolated. They have increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, major depression, and, in some cases, even premature death.
Caregivers step into their roles for many reasons – out of love, a sense of duty, even lack of other options. Often they don’t even recognize themselves as “caregivers”. However, giving all your time and energy to another person often prevents caregivers from recognizing their own needs, and that takes its toll on body and mind.
By caring for their own emotional and physical needs, family caregivers not only protect their own health but also return home better able to meet the challenges they and their loved ones face.
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