If you’re a caregiver you’ll know what it means to juggle lots of different tasks and the need to wear many different hats to help care for your loved one or friend. You can be nurse, cook, cleaner, driver and emotional support all in one day.
We spoke to Gemma who is caring for her husband who was diagnosed with a brain tumour glioblastoma multiforme, who provided some amazing insights into what day-to-day life as a caregiver really looks like:
1. Home care
When a loved one is at home rather than a hospital it is a big responsibility to take over medical care. Depending on the person who is seriously ill, caregivers will need to manage medication, adhering to the current medical needs, controlling the administration of medication as well as picking up prescriptions. Patients may also need toilet assistance and help with bathing and getting dressed.
A pet may also be part of the equation. It’s Gemma's role to make sure there is enough pet food in the house, and pet sitters are lined up in case of a last minute hospital visit. Dog walking has had to be factored in, there are many dog walking companies such as Borrow my Doggy which can help with this responsibility.
2. Doctor’s appointments
Gemma has needed to take regular trips to doctor’s appointments, as well as be in control of the scheduling and confirming doctor’s appointments. There’s also the responsibility of being an advocate for her husband, ensuring he’s adhering to his medical needs, controlling the administration of the medication as well as picking up the prescriptions.
3. Organising the calendar
Coordinating care is an important part of caregiving. Making sure loved ones are getting to their appointments while fitting in family and friends visits, exercise and social events. Gemma is fortunate to have family that are keen to help her with the caregiving duties, but coordinating that care was initially quite a time consuming task, involving lots of phone calls between family members. The family are now all connected on Gemma’s Circle on No More Grapes where the Calendar function helps them all keep track and coordinate the care between them.
4. Helping with physical activity
Helping your loved one may be an important part of the care plan as it is with Gemma’s husband. He needs regular low-intensity workouts which her family helps with. They take turns with his care plan and book in times on the Circle’s Calendar when they are available to step in.
5. Running errands
Even when your loved one is sick the world still keeps moving and the day-to-day errands need to be completed. Food shopping, going to the post office, car maintenance, picking the kids up from school and bill paying still need to be done. Gemma constantly writes lists and makes notes in the Circle’s Calendar of any errands and appointments that family and friends can help with.
6. Financial help
Helping out to pay bills, manage funds, taxes can also part of a carers duties. You may also need to find out what assistance there is to help, such as a carer’s allowance. Apart from carer's allowance, Gemma and her husband receive financial assistance from family and friends as Gemma has always been a stay at home mother and the diagnosis of her husband’s condition meant he had to leave his job. Her advice, it can be really challenging asking for help but family and friends are willing if they’re able to, so let them.
Next time someone offers to pick the kids up from school or cook you and the family a lovely meal say yes. And coordinate your care, we all operate at our best when we are being supported.
CAREGIVERS, WE’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR STORIES!
Our stories come from our community of caregivers, but we always want to hear more. What other hats do you don on a day to day basis? If you have anything to share, please comment below. Or get in touch to tell us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org