Caring for someone with arthritis can be a major change in the lives of many people, including the person receiving care. The Arthritis Society contacted people who provide or receive care for arthritis and, based on their feedback, developed the following 10 do's and don'ts when providing care. But how does a caregiver know when they can no longer manage daily care routines and planning responsibilities? What signs alert a caregiver to having trouble getting lost in the task of caring for someone? Can a caregiver who appreciates a loved one set limits on their responsibilities without feeling guilty or morally broken? These are the fundamental questions of successful long-term care. Unfortunately, most caregivers don't address these questions until they feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
This is why caregivers burn out, die sooner, and suffer multiple health problems more often than those who don't care for them. It's important to be honest with your family about your role as a caregiver, your abilities, and the impact that caregiving has on your life (emotionally, physically, and financially). The first step for any caregiver is to identify key people (friends, family or professionals) who can support and guide them in this process of change. At a recent caregiver retreat I attended, most caregivers had been caring for a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend for more than five years.
If you are a partner or spouse, friend or close family member of the person receiving care, it's natural to want to express your frustrations about caring for that person, but keep in mind that this can place an additional burden on the person receiving care. The second step is to reconsider personal beliefs regarding what it means to be a good caregiver. Mary Bart is the president of Caregiving Matters, an internet-based charity that provides education and support to family caregivers. Donna Moyer, co-founder and CEO of Preferred HealthStaff, says: “There are so many things a caregiver must do while helping someone in their household that what they shouldn't do is often overlooked.
The primary caregiver is such an important person to the elderly that the deterioration of the caregiver's health puts the elderly at greater health risk.” Finally, it's important to set boundaries and limits on what you're willing to do as a caregiver. I spent my first few years of life selflessly caring, so I won't allow anyone to force me to be responsible for providing care when I'm an adult. Open conversations about caregiving tasks can help clarify any uncertainty about the type of care expected or what you're willing to provide as a caregiver. Caregiver for a spouse in the home and in a nursing home, I now see my parents in their 70s taking on the role that I have had for two decades.