Caregivers are committed to giving to others. We provide care for individuals that are in need of assistance. The assistance may be limited to a few hours for medical transportation, medicine maintenance or extensive to include 24 hours of daily care. A family caregiver may be accountable for the dietary, medical and personal needs of a parent or family member. This care is often provided by one primary person, that operates unaided.
It is important that family caregivers have a support system, a network of people that provide guidance and assistance. I am blessed to have supportive husband, son, siblings and extensive medical community and resources. My eldest sister is a retired nurse with a plethora of information and my brother is a retired educator with sound advice. This task would be impossible without my family, friends, church and medical community.
My support system has the following components,
1. Family – My spouse, son, siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins offer emotional, physical and financial support. My spouse and son may be referred to as secondary caregivers due to their active involvement with her care. Other family members operate in various roles, such as my niece who interacts with family during emergencies. Siblings aide with all medical decisions.
2. Friends- Most of my friends have functioned in a caregiving role with their parents, therefore they are willing to offer support and a shoulder to lean on. I welcome their wellness check calls and inquires.
3. Church Community – Members offer prayer, encouragement and helping hands.
Prior to the pandemic, members of my church were available for respite and meals
4. Healthcare Team – Team members include primary care physician , urogynecologist, hematologist, orthopedic, dentist, podiatrist, nutritionist, physical therapist and nurses. Her medical team provide outstanding care and are responsive and attentive. During transitional stages, a social worker and certified nursing assistances (CNA) were members of the team.
Unfortunately, many caregivers operate without an established support system. They operate independently and make decisions individually. Although one may be competent and capable, help is always valuable. I personally believe that all caregivers should have an established support structure. Identifying people in your community who you can rely upon to offer comfort and support can be extremely beneficial to your welfare. The support system should include individuals and organizations that offer resources, emotional, medical and physical support. It is great to identify a person that is available at a moment’s notice to assist during emergencies. Members of your supportive team should be understanding and helpful and never judgmental or condescending.
Support systems will look differently for each caregiver. If you do not have a current support system that functions well, consider developing one. You may be happily surprised that there are people in your life that are willing and able to offer a listening hear, helping hands or render words of encouragement. Support can augment your experiences and well-being. Appreciate and accept useful help. As you care for someone else, allow someone to care for you.