New to Family Caregiving? Caregiving Basics One Should Know

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Caregiving, Health Care | 0 comments

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

If people require care, there’s no better option than their family members. But regardless of familiarity, everyone must start with these caregiving basics to administer proper and suitable care.

Nobody knows people better than their families. Being with them from their first breath to their first steps, family members know the most crucial details there are to know about individuals. They are typically expected to be there, assist, and care for each other when unexpected and dangerous events happen.

Medical professionals might be trained to handle any situation, but someone more familiar with the patient can offer more input and insights regarding treatment. Whether it’s food allergies, drug preferences, or any unseen conditions or family health history, families know what can help or hinder any medical care. The surge in family caregiving isn’t surprising, given this trend.

However, although more and more families find themselves providing personal care for a loved one, the first steps will always be intimidating as much as they’re confusing. Family caregiving might sound like a rudimentary process, but it’s an entirely different world people must prepare for.

Get Started by Listening to Another’s Experiences

Regardless of how closely-knit families are, nobody can anticipate or predict being in a situation where they must care for another. This was what author Eleanor Gaccetta felt when she had to jump in and be her mother’s caretaker for nine years. Although her memoir, One Caregiver’s Journey, which stood as Eleanor’s guidebook for caregivers, comes off as a lighthearted narrative, it’s safe to assume what she did was far from light and easy.

Eleanor calls her book a caregiver’s blueprint, especially for those who have only started a similar endeavor. Filled with her experiences during a completely foreign responsibility, One Caregiver’s Journey is a starting point for any caregiving basics one may need. It accounts for all nine years of her family caregiving journey, allowing readers an extensive glimpse of the reality, changes, and challenges she faced.

Eleanor didn’t start as a caregiving expert, but throughout the years of helping her mother, she picked up processes that worked and left those that didn’t. Now, she curated everything together and published it for current and future caregivers to learn from.

Caregiving Basics to Get People Started With This Endeavor

Providing care to family members may feel familiar but foreign at the same time. Families have been doing this for as long as they’re together. But when it’s required due to health concerns, factors change, and requirements can become stricter. For those who feel like they’re treading on thin ice, unsure how they must start this journey, here are caregiving basics to get started with:

Learn as Much About the Situation

Family members are asked to become caregivers due to the patient contracting something limiting. To that end, family caregivers must start by learning everything about the condition to provide appropriate care. This involves understanding what the doctors have discussed with them and, perhaps, digging deeper into the internet or any public resources for more information.

If the illness is physical, they can look into what movements might cause pain, how the patient can sleep comfortably at night, or what activities they can still do without being in pain. These ordinary yet consequential questions must be tackled to help alleviate their physical and psychological burdens. The more caregivers know about the situation, the less anxious they’ll be to interact or step in when the patient needs assistance.

Instincts Help

This might be something no caregiving basics will include in their lists, but instincts must be trusted. The caregiver might not be experiencing what the patient is feeling, but they still speak a familiar language. They’ve been with each other long enough to feel if something is amiss or wrong. It doesn’t have to be verbally exchanged. Sometimes, families know each other that well.

This doesn’t mean caregivers can ignore what professionals say in favor of their gut. They must learn to follow the latter’s words and listen to their gut.

Encourage Their Independence

They’re in pain, and nobody wants to see them suffering. But this shouldn’t mean the caregiver has to carry their burden and do everything for them. Perhaps, even the patient wouldn’t want their independence removed. An essential caregiving basics everyone should remember is that autonomy is significant even to these patients. Look into activities they can do alone. Let them plan what they want to do during the day. Family caregivers must normalize allowing patients to enjoy their independence as much as possible.

Caregiving, even one’s family members, can affect the giver’s well-being. Hence, if they want to provide ample care and maintain safe boundaries for their sake, these caregiving basics must be considered before practicing anything.


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