If you have ever found yourself in a situation where offering support to a caregiver is necessary, you may be familiar with the complexities of such conversations and the numerous challenges that need to be navigated. Our societal norms, cultural, familial, and religious traditions contribute to expectations about caregiving, and understanding this terrain is crucial for grasping the caregiver’s perspectives, obligations, and potential reluctance to accept help.
The reality of caregiving is multifaceted, encompassing numerous responsibilities and the daunting task of navigating the intricacies of the health care system. Supporting a caregiver must begin as early as possible to prevent burnout and crisis situations. It is when you believe you don’t need it that support should start because caregiving is more of a triathlon than a sprint.
A key aspect of the conversation revolves around fostering a deeper understanding of caregiving and acknowledging the toll it takes on an individual. Daily caregiving is not only physically demanding but also, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and psychologically challenging. Often, people fail to realize they are exhausted as they are constantly engaged in tasks – not only taking care of the current moment but also having to forecast what is to come – they don’t really have time to stop and consider their wellbeing until they are on the brink of burning out leading to crisis management.
While caregiving is often associated with women, it is not exclusive to them. Traditionally, women have been expected to assume caregiving responsibilities without adequate compensation, adding to the complexity of the issue. Our societal orientation to caregiving is a bigger conversation, nonetheless, challenging our personal biases is important to promote clarity, flexibility, and willingness to discuss how to support each other in caregiving roles.
Caregivers need time for self-renewal, recuperation, and invigoration to maintain the stamina and endurance required to continue caregiving for their loved one. Establishing supportive routines and activities should begin early on to avoid waiting until a crisis point. Caregiving can be an isolating experience so reaching out and offering practical help, such as grocery shopping, cleaning, driving to appointments, or providing respite visits so the caregiver can go out of the home or simply rest, can make a significant difference.
Discussing the layers of responsibility involved in caregiving is essential, and if there are willing individuals in your life, accept their help. Clarifying what support you need and delegating tasks to various people lightens the load and makes the responsibilities more manageable.
As the song “Lean on Me” suggests, acknowledging that everyone carries pain and sadness at some point in our lives, allows us to lean on each other for support, fostering a resilient community.
Remembering that we are not alone and depending on each other contributes to building a community that can support one another – a worthwhile endeavour.
If you want to explore how to set up support for a caregiver / as the caregiver, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.