Caring & Caregiving
In a new partnership with a non-profit providing support for caregivers, I wanted to take a closer look at what that term, caregiver, actually means. Here are some of the current definitions for caregiver:
- A family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.
- The most common type of caregiver is the family caregiver: someone who takes care of a family member without pay. The other types are professional, independent, private, informal, and volunteer caregivers.
- Caregiving may involve: ♦assisting with meals, personal care and transportation. ♦helping with medical procedures and therapy.
- All parents serve as a caregiver from time to time.
This is the one that resonates with me the most:
“Caregiver” is a general term referring to anyone who provides care for a person who needs extra help. This could mean a family caregiver, a respite caregiver, a home caregiver, or a primary caregiver, to name but a few. (https://aging.com/what-is-a-caregiver/)
So in examining the topic I first took a look back at what have been my caregiver roles, and while there have been some very pivotal ones, I realized that what I see as “caregiver” has a much broader definition and experience than might normally be defined in our current society.
I began my caregiving training in my early years as the oldest of four children. I became a babysitter for my siblings and many of our neighbors, ages ranging from birth to about 7 years old. The next phase of training was with a program known as Candy Stripers, that introduced teen girls to the nursing profession. Then came the roles of wife and mother of four. Now that’s a fair amount of training but I was thrust into a more intense training when my youngest son was hit by a car and in a body cast for three months. Little by little the stress of caregiving was beginning to impact my health. Then came the next big challenge in caregiving when that same son was diagnosed with a brain tumor that took us through a three year caregiving journey before his passing.
Next, came the role where many of us associate with caregiving, with an elderly parent/grandparent with some type of illness or disability that has gained attention. Both my parents become part of this journey of caregiving. In a report from 2020, family caregivers now encompass more than one in five Americans. The study also reveals that family caregivers are in worse health compared to five years ago. (https://www.caregiving.org/caregiving-in-the-us-2020/)
Here again, I recognized that the stress was impacting my health and wellness. That led me to more research on stress management and more focus on how stress impacts our health. Stress has both physical and emotional effects on the body and chronic stress weakens the immune system. The signs that stress may have a hold on you can be in increased heart rate, changes in breathing and digestion, and increased blood pressure. There are many stressors in our lives and while we can’t control all of them it is important to remember that we can choose how we respond.
One of those choices is in our physical health and finding the resources that will support good choices. So, I invite you to check out the resources and wellness products on Alaka’i Associates as well as with my new partners at www.gab808.com and www.chilltime.tv. We are all here to guide you to a more activated life in health and wellness, especially if you are a caregiver – of any definition. Your health is your first wealth!
Until next time…