Family Caregiver: What Are Your Tasks?

Becoming a family caregiver is a life-changing decision. I made this decision more than 10 years ago when I was my mother’s caregiver. Several months ago I made the decision again, only this time I would be caring for my disabled husband. Caregiving is a huge job and it takes a while to get the hang of it. If you’re new to caregivng you’re probably asking, “What are my tasks?”

Answering this question requires three steps: brainstorming, grouping, and culling.

Step 1: Brainstorm on tasks. Jot down every idea that pops into your mind, silly ones, serious ones, and any ideas in between. Your first notes may be about the Activities of Daily Living because they’re so common: bathing, coming hair, shaving, etc.Allow lots of time for this step because it can take days.

Step 2: Group your tasks into categories. I kept things simple and stayed with three categories: Activities of Daily Living, Healthcare, and Home Management. You may need additional categories and that’s okay. For example, The Family and Nursing Care website, has posted a “Caregiving Task Sheet.” and it divides tasks into detailed groups: personal, nutrition, companionship, toileting, mobility, and support.

Step 3: Cull your list. The goal here is to streamline the job. You may be able to combine some tasks and delegate others. Weeks before I became my husband’s home caregiver I contacted a professional caregiving agency and asked for my husband’s name to be placed on a list.

The care team recommended full-time care for my husband, something we couldn’t afford. However, we could afford part-time care and pay for four hours per day. At seven in the morning an agency caregiver comes to get my husband up for the day. She or he leaves at nine a.m. In the evening a second caregiver comes for two hours and gets my husband ready for bed. I would be lost without this help.

Some days don’t go as planned, and are kind of crazy, yet caregiving is still rewarding. Though my husband is paralyzed, he is alive, and that is a miracle. When he awakened from emergency surgery he couldn’t move either of his legs. Today, he can move one leg and wiggle the second, another miracle. Thanks to physical therapists, my husband can stand for a minute and a half, a third miracle in our lives.

I have the joy of spending more time with my husband, and he has the joy of spending more time with me. Your caregiving experience may be equally rewarding. When you get discouraged, remember that you’re making a difference in someone’s life.

This month my husband and I celebrate our 57th anniversary. While I’m blessed to have such a loving husband, I’m even more blessed to have experienced miracles. My husband is disabled, yet he has a quality life. Come October, he will wheel his wheelchair down the church aisle and give our granddaugter away in marriage. Life is filled with surprises and so is cargiving. in home nursing care toronto

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