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Being a Caregiver

Updated on June 13, 2014

Caregiving For Others

Being a caregiver of another person can be very stressful. It is a task that is better shared if possible. It can be done as a job or a duty. If it is only your job you can go home and rest your brain. If it is your family duty then it is your lifestyle also. There are many support groups, organizations, on-line forums and books that can be utilized to help you through the process. It is imperative that you take advantage of any help in your task of caregiving as possible.

Caring For a Family Member

Service Providers Can Care For Many Types Of Relationships

A family caregiver can be responsible for taking care of a child, a spouse, a parent, grandparent, any other family member or significant other. It can be in any combination that presents itself. It is very stressful and can take a toll on other family relationships, jobs and health. Caregivers have been known to predecease the ones they have been caring for. Though easier said than done, they must take care of themselves in order to take care of others.

Family relationships become strained because of the time not spent with the other family and friends. They may feel resentful of this. Children might feel that they are not being nurtured properly and begin to act out. The home might have to have some changes to accommodate the person being cared for. Wheelchair ramp, special bed, room changes, grab bars would change the look of a home.

The Economics of Caregiving

Financial Limitations Can Be Stressful

Economics suffer due to loss of income from being unemployed or under employed. Advancements and raises might not come their way due to lack of focus at work. The family caregiver might have their future become more perilous because health insurance, pensions and social security depend on having a job. If you don't have a job because you are taking care of a family member, you probably wont have health insurance and worry about what if you need to see a doctor? Your pension and social security amounts are based on the length of work history. The less years of work, the less money you will receive when you retire. Woman tend to be in the vast majority when it comes to caregiving . They fare badly with pensions due in part to unequal pay from the start, staying home with young children and then leaving work to care for sick family members. The grim economics that we are facing in this country does not help.

It takes resources to care for someone. It takes time and money. There is no shame in trying to find out what help is available and utilizing it. This means help from other family, friends, private groups and the government. Every little bit helps. As you start looking and networking you might be surprised where you receive assistance from. Check with your state department of health to see what you qualify for. There are programs for kin caregivers even some grants. It is cheaper for families to look after someone than the government.

Most hospitals receive government funding and have a percentage of charitable cases, you can see if you or your loved one qualifies if necessary. In cases where you provide a substantial amount of support you may be able to claim it on your taxes.

Unfortunately in these hard economic times people are forgoing medical care due to money issues. Everything is not covered by insurance and most insurance have co-payments. Let the provider know and they might be able to help you and be mindful of any tests that are not really needed. They might be able to get the information they need in a less expensive way.

One of the most important thing to do is to be aware of what kind of coverage you have. Read your booklets and any literature you have so as not to be surprised. You want to know what type of care is covered and what is not. If you have insurance make sure all your doctors and labs are in your insurance network. This might not be as easy as it used to be. Some hospitals and free standing facilities will have non affiliated doctors on their staff. The bills from these practitioners can be vary large. In some instances their presence is to get more money out of you. Some of these clinicians are not as honest as they should be with more than one provider number among other red flags.

Crowd Funding for Help in Health Care - Help with Cash

There are websites that help with funds you might need. In case you have an emergency and are in need of money to take care of it there can be help from the global community. Here are a few websites out of many. As always due diligence must be done. Check out each website and find out if there are any fees and how they work. Also if you get any money there might be taxes due or issues with any entitlements you receive.

Scammers, Con Artists, Fraudsters

Scammers and con artists are trying to separate you and your loved one from their badly needed finances. Be careful of phone calls from legitimately sounding organizations that might even have personal information. This information is out there. Do not give any information and do not call any number they give you. Google the number as it appears on your caller ID. There are forums with people who get these calls and they discuss them and who they are. These callers are now resorting to threatening people with calling medicaid if they don't answer their questions and telling them they are going to die.

Emails are another way of trying to get your money by also pretending to be legitimate organizations. Just because someone asks you a question doesn't mean you have to answer. They count on you not wanting to be rude or not wanting to miss out on a good thing.

Legal Documents Needed

Makes Life Easier

No one is immortal so all of us including people who are assisting others as family caregivers need to have paperwork in order. There needs to be a list of locations of important documents like insurance, deeds, bank locations. And we need to have these four documents.

Will- Describes how you want your estate dealt with and distributed.

Durable Power of Attorney- Someone designated to make financial decisions if you cannot.

Living Will- They specifically say what type of health care you want. Will say what you want done or not done.

MOLST- Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment is an additional form that allows someone to address the specifics of what they want for end of life care.

Health Care Proxy- Appoint someone who will decide health care issues you cannot. Make sure the person will be able to adhere to the decision if the time comes or is of similar mind set.

Medication Safety In Caregiving

Discuss Medicines With Your Doctor

One of the more costly part of caregiving is medication. The family caregiver needs to know what are the names of the medications and not just the description. The color or size might change. You want to know the side effects which is written on the insert. It is important to know what foods or medications should be avoided because of conflict. And if you need to monitor anything or have periodic tests.

As people age they begin to be prescribed medicines for illnesses. In our youth obsessed culture people consider that caving in to getting old. Another problem is the old adage of a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. We read in papers and hear on televisions about miracle cures and new medicines that help with diseases. A great number of what we hear about is incomplete information and spin. From there we need to dig deeper to find the real story.

Medicine is expensive and sometimes seemingly arbitrary. Television and radio advertises to get you to buy the newest most expensive type of drug. There are older less expensive and generics. Research has shown that the effectiveness and side effect of certain drugs are the same but the prices are very different. Talk to your pharmacist, doctor and research your medications. You want to know if there is a reason you can't use a generic or older well researched one instead of the newer more expensive brand name. Mind you, a newer medicine may be an improvement on a older medication, you need to know. If they give you free samples, that can help in the short term but medications for chronic illnesses are taken long term and you need to get the prices in check. Using less expensive medicine will help delay getting into the Medicare donut hole where there is that gap in coverage.

Make sure you understand why a prescription medication is given. Question the M.D. about why he/she thinks it's the best. Sometimes what is prescribed by your doctor is off-label or unapproved and maybe not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Perhaps insurance covers it but it will be very expensive. I have spoken to my doctor concerning medication and after my input we decided on something more appropriate. There has been problems with marketing of certain drugs for uses that have not been fully studied when they have others that are available. Be an advocate, your input is important.

Helping your loved one with adherence to medication is one of the most important things a caregiver can do. Not taking needed medication can cause increases sickness and even death. There are many reasons for someone not being compliant. They might feel they do not need the medicines or its not helping or there are side effects that they can't tolerate. As caregiver you can help the person remember when and discuss why the medicine is needed. You can also talk with their clinician to see if any changes are needed.

Technology can help with reminders to take medication. There are watches that have alarms, some emergency pendents can also have reminders. Phones can have alerts to remind folks when it's time for medications. Computers can be set to send an e-mail prompt or alert, family or friends can use Skype to actually see that medicine is actually being taken.

Products to Help with Medication

Technology can help you take care of someone. Vibrating watches help remind loved ones when medication is due, medic alert system if they need medical help and web cams to see and hear them.

You can stay in contact with your loved ones with free videoconferencing from Skype and Oovoo click here.

6 Alarm Vibrating ADULT e-pill MeDose Watch with Count-down Timer SILVER/BLACK.
6 Alarm Vibrating ADULT e-pill MeDose Watch with Count-down Timer SILVER/BLACK.

This is a product to help remember when to take your medication.

Carex Health Brands Ultra Pill Crusher - 1Each
Carex Health Brands Ultra Pill Crusher - 1Each

remember not all pills can be crushed only the ones that are prescribed that way.


How To Prevent Falls

Falls Are The Leading Cause Of Injury To Seniors

Falls are the leading cause of injury to older people. It is known to be very devastating and can cause death. You as family caregiver can help your loved one in prevention. There might be a need to have the surroundings changed and made safer. Try to do things that would make it less dangerous. Make sure there is proper lighting, even a night light can prevent bumps and tumbles. Install a toilet lift for easier access. Grab bars are also helpful in the bathroom, no throw rugs or anything else that can cause tripping. Pick up anything that falls on the floor to prevent an accident. Make sure your charges always have on proper footwear and that their eyes have been checked and glasses are the current prescription. Ask them if at any time they feel dizzy from medication or any other reason. Try to make sure they use their walker or cane if they need it.

You might get some resistance, but be firm. It is hard for some people to change. They might see these changes as signs of their decline and that they are getting old. Remind them that these are changes to keep them safe.

Not Able To Be A Caregiver (anymore)

What happens when the family caregiver isn't capable. You see this with elderly couples with one taking care of the other. You also see it with parents taking care of a disabled child. In both cases the one doing the care might have a change their health or mental status. Or they simply are unable to care for someone else due to on going mental or physical issues. Sometimes it isn't apparent right away, and the other family members might not want to interfere, feeling it's not their place. The caregiver might not want to give up their responsibility. Without intervention the consequences could be serious.

The person might not be able to mentally deal with someone with dementia, it is very stressful. The person might be too weak physically for taking care of someone who needs total care. The person might be incapable of understanding medication or what to do in an emergency. Abuse can be manifested and the dependent person could end up sicker or worse. As was mentioned before, the caregiver could end up hurting themselves, having a heart attack, stroke or dying.

The caregiver could have underlying mental illness which could aggravate the situation. It can be very sad that a sick elderly person being cared for by a relative with mental problems. Situations have happened where a relative moves into the elderly persons neat, clean house and due to OCD issues is a compulsive hoarder and maybe has squalor syndrome. The person fills up that house with junk and causes both of them to live in a squalid situation. This person might not take the elderly relative to their medical appointments or feed them properly. This makes for an unhealthy environment which could cost the relative her home and independence. The elder may not want to complain or take action due to fear of being placed in a nursing home.

The change might be in the person being cared for. They might be getting fragile and need more care than what can be provided in the home setting. They might be violent to members of the house hold or displaying dangerous behaviors. Someone who leaves the stove on or smokes in bed can cause harm to themselves and others. Some elderly might start hoarding and will not cooperate with cleaning their environment. It can be unsanitary if pests like bed bugs and rodents are introduced to the household because of this habit.

Outside Help For Caregivers

The time might come when outside help is needed. These helping hands would be able to care for a loved one when a family caregiver is unable. There are agencies that have workers of different levels or you can hire home care workers on your own. You can have people just cleaning and cooking or more medically involved. Some will just be companions and others would have to do more hands on as in washing, feeding and transferring them out of bed. Insurance might pay for some of it, medicaid or medicare might pay also. It might have to be paid for out of pocket. This would be one way to keep your family member at home.

Video on Caregivers

Products to Help With Independence

There are many products to help with independence. The elastic shoe laces prevent shoes or sneakers from coming untied and you do not have to tie them at all. The she becomes a slip on. Zipper pulls and button hooks help with dressing.

Lumex UpRise Onyx Folding Walker, QTY: 1
Lumex UpRise Onyx Folding Walker, QTY: 1

Not only to help you walk but also the lower bar helps you stand from a seated position.

PikStik P-321 Pro Aluminum Reacher, 32 Inch, Yellow, 32"
PikStik P-321 Pro Aluminum Reacher, 32 Inch, Yellow, 32"

One of many types of reacher. Not only for getting things from high shelves but also for people in wheelchairs and others who cannot bend.


Reader Feedback

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    • eccles1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Right now things are hard on all so getting help from other family members would help you but really the same will happen to us all at one time or another all I can do is give to others what I would want done to me when I get old and can not taker care of myself

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Caregiving is a vital part of our society. With a quickly aging population more caregivers will be needed in the future too.

    • christopherlee lm profile image

      christopherlee lm 

      7 years ago

      It a job that we all need to consider, if we do it for our parent, out kids will do the same for us.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks, for such a wonderful lens, many people don't realize what it takes to provide care to those you love, as well as those you meet. A caregiver is a very special person.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      This would fit well into healthy living - aging. Best wishes.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      A great resource for caregivers of veterans is You can search resources related to your caregiver needs, create a profile and chat online with other caregivers in a great caregiver network.

    • The-Java-Gal profile image


      8 years ago

      This really hit home - as an only-child, I am designated caregiver to my parents - 5 years with my Dad and Alzheimer's - until he became unmanageable at home, and now for my Mom. Every day has its own challenges, and caregivers must find ways to fill their own reservoirs to stay healthy. 5*s on a very informative subject,

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Lots of good information here. I'm my elderly, widowed mother's caretaker, and it can certainly be very stressful, especially with her physical handicap and decreasing mental capacity. I have two much older brothers, but they live nowhere near here, so the caretaking falls to me. It's definitely very challenging, but I'm happy to have someone to step in for a few months while I'll be out of the country. I really do need the break.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You know, our household definitely knows a lot about caregiving. The females in particular have excelled at caregiving ... my one sister took care of our father in the Cleveland area for years ... and it was this sister who went to visit dad at the Christmas holidays to unfortunately find him in his chair still holding a cup of stale coffee, but dead for a few days. I know I don't talk with her that often about that experience, but it surely left its mark on her. My husband was the caretaker for his aunt and then her daughter ... both of passed on now, but their last days of life were enriched by the care and love he gave them.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens on caregiving. I see more and more families searching for caregivers and ways to get around having to send their parent or loved one to an assisted living facility. As the baby boomer population ages we are going to begin to see many problems emerge due to the lack of the family unit. MedFirst Alert is a 24 hour Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) provider specializing in senior medical alert systems.


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