Most family members would want to be the caregiver of a terminally ill loved one to ensure that their loved one is comfortable and has everything they need. They may also feel it’s their duty to care for their loved one during this difficult time. While being a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience, this is also a challenging role.
If you’re thinking about becoming your loved one’s primary caregiver, here are five considerations to help you make your decision:
1. Are You Physically Prepared?
Caring for a terminally ill patient can be physically demanding. Depending on your loved one’s condition, you may need to lift them, help them to the bathroom, or administer medication. You may also need to be on call 24/7 if your loved one needs assistance.
If you’re unsure if you can handle the demands of caregiving, speak with your loved one’s doctor or a social worker. They can help assess your situation and provide resources to help you care for your loved one.
For instance, your loved one is now too weak to move by themselves and requires medical equipment to survive. If you know how to use the equipment, nor do you have adequate training to take care of them, then it would be best to leave most of your loved one’s care under the care of a licensed hospice nurse.
Nurses specializing in hospice care are excellent resources because they have the right training to care for terminally ill patients. They work under the direction of a licensed physician, ensuring a safe and comfortable experience for you and your loved one. If you honestly believe you don’t have the physical capacity to provide the best care for your loved one, then it may be best to consider hospice care. Just make sure you do your research and find hospice nurses available 24/7.
2. Do You Have the Time?
Caregiving can be a full-time job, especially if your loved one has around-the-clock care needs. If you’re currently working or have other responsibilities, you’ll need to consider if you have the time to commit to caregiving.
Let’s say your terminally ill loved one requires 24/7 attention, but you also have a nine-to-five job. In this case, you’ll either need to quit your job or find someone to help you with caregiving duties. Consider if you can take time off from work if needed. If you can’t commit the time required for caregiving and no other loved one is available, it would be better to hire a professional caregiver.
3. Can You Afford To Take on the Role of Caregiver?
The cost of being a caregiver can add up quickly. In addition to medical expenses, you may need to purchase special equipment or hire outside help. Sadly, not everyone has the financial capacity to be a caregiver, nor do all patients needing a caregiver to have the resources to pay for one. Studies even show that family caregiving can financially impact the caregiver, including loss of income and reduced benefits.
Before you commit to being a caregiver, sit down and estimate the costs involved. If you find that you can’t afford to be a caregiver, there are other options available. You can look into government assistance programs or fund raise from friends and family members. Remember, being a caregiver is a big financial responsibility, so be honest with yourself about whether or not you can afford it.
4. Are You Prepared Emotionally?
Caring for a terminally ill loved one can be emotionally taxing. There will be good days, bad days, and everything in between. Studies even show that 40-70% of family caregivers experience depression. This is often due to the stress of caregiving, lack of sleep, and social isolation.
Before you commit to being a caregiver, prepare yourself emotionally for the challenges ahead. If you’re not sure you can handle the emotional demands of caregiving, consider speaking with a counselor or therapist. They can help assess your situation and provide resources that can help.
One example is if your loved one is in the final stages of their illness, and you know they will soon pass away. They could be in pain and may become agitated. As their caregiver, you need to know how to deal with these behaviors. If you don’t think you can handle this type of situation, it would be better to have someone else take on the role of caregiver. This way, you won’t be as emotionally drained and stay involved in your loved one’s care.
5. What Does Your Loved One Want?
Ultimately, you should consider your loved one’s decision about whether or not you will be their primary caregiver. This is especially true if they can still make their own decisions.
Have a conversation with your loved one about their wishes for care. Respect their decision if they don’t want you to be their caregiver. This is difficult, but you must do what’s best for everyone involved, including your loved one.
Suppose they don’t want you to be in charge of care. In that case, you can help them find a professional caregiver or another family member who can step in. You can also offer to help with caregiving duties as much as possible.
Making the decision about whether or not to be a caregiver is never easy. Taking the time to consider all these factors makes it easier to decide what’s best for you and your loved one. Consider the physical, financial, and emotional toll caregiving could take on you. And most importantly, talk to your loved one about their wishes for care. With all this information, you’ll be able to make the best decision for everyone involved.