Considering the “Family” of Family Caregivers
When we think about the challenges of family caregiving, we often focus on the “caregiving” part – and the fact that many family members are often thrust into healthcare-related roles that they’re not equipped to handle with their existing knowledge or skills.
Our blog has acknowledged that dilemma while also noting the demands on family caregivers will continue to grow as a high volume of Baby Boomers age and a shortage of professional caregivers increases.
But let’s step back for a moment and consider the “family” part of family caregiving. Nicole Clagett, founder of Transitions GuidingLights – a nonprofit agency dedicated solely to supporting family and professional caregivers – empathizes with the dynamics that come into play when a family has to figure out how they will work as a team to care for a seriously ill loved one.
Nicole points out that some families, especially certain ethnic cultures, may have guilt or other stigmas about seeking outside help when they feel they should “take care of their own.” Unlike in times past, however, many families often have members spread out across the country as they coordinate how to care for a loved one in a specific location.
Families often don’t know the resources available to help their loved one at home. “Depending on where you live in the country,” Nicole says, “resources can be incredibly confusing. And so folks get caught in that web of resources, almost like a fly on a cobweb, and they just can’t get out and they start hearing words that they don’t know.”
Nicole also has observed confusion about the many roles of caregiving … and when caregiving actually begins. “Most people think of caregiving as when they’re providing physical assistance for their loved one, so bathing or dressing or grooming, assistance with incontinence, things of that nature. But the reality of it is, is that caregiving really creeps in on you and it starts with some of those instrumental activities of daily living, so assistance with the bills or running to the grocery store or having to drive family members to doctor’s appointments.”
For providers of home-based care, the more you can educate family members on easy-to-understand ways you can help them – or even assist them in navigating that “cobweb” of available resources in your community – the better your opportunity to engage with them earlier and build loyalty for your brand.
Nicole shares many other candid insights about family caregiving in the Transcend Strategy Group podcast “Caring for Family Caregivers.” Take a few moments to listen.