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Be A Caregiver, Debilitating Diseases, Volunteer

There are millions of people in the US that have a debilitating disease and these people rely on assistance from caregivers to get through day to day. If one of these people is your loved one, I’m sure that you would also volunteer to give care at the drop of a hat. What exactly constitutes being a caregiver? How well will you handle it?
Some caregivers are paid caregivers, usually with no relation to the family much like a private nurse. They are usually trained in administering assistance in tasks such as giving medication, assisting in the bathroom, and assisting with walking and feeding. More often, the designated caregivers are those from the family, especially if there are monetary constraints involved. There is nothing wrong with this, but taking care of an ailing loved one is much harder on the relative than on a stranger.

Before deciding to be a caregiver, you must first educate yourself on the tasks involved as well as the proper way to do it. There are some places that will offer short courses on this, especially on your local community or hospital, just ask for referrals. The best thing to do is to accompany your loved one on visits to the doctor and to talk to the doctor about the best way to give care. You may also have the same conversations with the caregivers in the hospital—nurses. Nurses will have a wealth of knowledge on how to make a patient’s situation easier because they are trained exhaustively on this aspect. For instance, people with type 1 diabetes will need regular insulin injections, and talking to your nurse, she can give you basic advice on how to administer injections and what to do in case of hypoglycemia.

Being a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, and a genuine show of love. However, you should remember that this can take its toll on you too. You should remember to take care of yourself and of your own health if you do decide to become a caregiver, as you can’t expect to take care of somebody if your health is declining in the process.

You should watch out for signs of trouble that can befall a caregiver such as the consistent feeling of being tired, not having nearly enough sleep, feeling of depression and helplessness, losing or gaining too much weight, and losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy. These are warning signs that you may be taking on more than you can handle. If this is the case, you should seek help.

Take note that there are steps that you can take to minimize the stress of being a caregiver. One of these is to accept help when you can. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Other family members could probably pitch in if you asked them. You could take shifts taking care of your loved one while you go about your normal activities. You could also think about engaging the help of a part-time professional caregiver once or twice a week.

You should also take the time to talk to other people about the situation, sometimes being able to share takes away half of the stress. Go out with friends, and try to do enjoyable activities by yourself. There are also support groups that you can join made up of people in similar situations. Trading stories and serving as a support for each other can feel like somebody is taking care of you too.