You are a care giver if you provide basic care to someone with a chronic condition, which is described as an illness that does not go away or lasts a very long time. Examples include cancer, dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and diabetes to mention a few.
Being a caregiver requires strength, patience and lots of your time. You as the caregiver have to do for the patient what they cannot do for themselves anymore.
Caregiving involves much more than cooking and cleaning. Here are some additional caregiving duties:
Bathing – When the person cannot perform basic hygiene care, you as the caregiver have to assume the responsibility of bathing and personal hygiene.
Turning them in bed – If the patient has become bed ridden, you have to turn them often so they don’t develop bed sores, which can become very painful if not dealt with quickly and can breakdown the skin to the bone.
Feeding – If the patient cannot feed themselves, you will have to do the feeding. It is important to change the texture of foods. In some cases they might have to be fed pureed foods because their swallow reflex has slowed and eating more solid foods presents a chocking hazard.
Lifting – At some point as a caregiver you will have to do some type of lifting. Be it to transfer them from chair to wheelchair, wheelchair to vehicle or wheelchair to toilet. There are ways to lift to minimize stress to your body. A transfer belt can be very useful but you should find out from someone qualified on exactly how to use it.
Giving Medicine – Most chronic illnesses require medications to be given at various time, with or without food. As the caregiver you have to be aware of the dosage and times that medications have to be given.
Emotional Support – When someone loses their ability to do certain basic activities such as walking, brushing their teeth, eating and going to the bathroom, it can be emotionally overwhelming for them. As the caregiver you also have to provide emotional support when needed.
Stepping into the role of a caregiver is a huge responsibility and you have to really think about it before assuming the role. Communicate with the doctor of the patient; they have a wealth of knowledge, so use it when you need it. Now you know what’s involved, do not take on the role of the caregiver if you are not up to the task.
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