Taking care of elderly family members requires patience and dedication, but it also equally calls for skill and capacity.

The idea of family caregiving has evolved over the years, and so is the role of family caregivers. Traditionally, taking care of elderly family members is confined within basic nursing, giving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual support. In previous decades, taking care of the sick and elderly members of the family does not cover complex areas. Medical and other nursing aspects are left to professional caregivers and medical personnel. Today, that role is fast-changing, and even family members are learning to fill in some of the roles that professional caregivers perform in order to provide maximum and efficient care for their loved ones.

According to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/,

“Despite the unique nature of any given caregiver’s role over time, broad domains of activity characterize family caregiving. Caregiving ranges from assistance with daily activities and providing direct care to the care recipient to navigating complex health care and social services systems. The domains of the caregiving role include assistance with household tasks, self-care tasks, and mobility; provision of emotional and social support; health and medical care; advocacy and care coordination; and surrogacy. Each domain has multiple tasks and activities. Cutting across these domains are ongoing cognitive and interpersonal processes in which caregivers engage including, for example, continual problem solving, decision making, communicating with others (family members and health and human service professionals), and constant vigilance over the care recipient’s well-being. How caregivers manage these tasks depends on their values, preferences, knowledge, and skills, as well as the accessibility, affordability, and adequacy of health care, LTSS, and other resources…”

Role of Modern Family Caregivers

Modern family caregivers are not limited to giving baths, ensuring that the patient eats healthy food, helping the patient get dressed, assisting in going to the comfort room, and other activities that require assistance in getting up or settling down. Today’s family caregiving would require certain skills in making sure that executing the tasks above are done at a professional level as well as performing a certain task that before only professional caregivers and nurses are expected to do. In recent memory, we have seen how the art of taking care of elderly family members has evolved. Family members have collaborated with doctors, health workers, and professional caregivers in providing premium and comprehensive health care for elderly family members. This care-coordination has enabled family members to participate and take on more complex tasks from monitoring medication, taking vitals (blood pressure, temperature, and even sugar count for diabetes patients), and in some cases, administering non-oral medications (patches, injections, and intravenously). Family caregivers also underwent certain training and knowledge transfers in order for them to keep up with the standards of professional caregiving.

The Challenges of Family Caregivers

One of the challenges that family caregivers are facing whether they are taking care of elderly or sick family members is the idea of mostly working alone at home. Unlike in hospices or hospitals, family caregivers are left alone without any assistance or help, and for longer periods of time. This can develop fatigue and other chronic conditions. Mentally, being confined to long hours with the patient tended to stress out the caregiver as well. Family caregivers also develop anxiety. As such, it is essential that family caregivers also monitor their “working hours” and allot a “me-time” for themselves. Exercises, occasional check-ups, and vitamins are also important for family caregivers if they are to effectively take care of their elderly patients. A sick caregiver is not effective, if not detrimental to the whole process of providing adequate care to patients. The health of the family caregiver is as important as the patient he or she is taking care of.

One Caregiver’s Journey by Gaccetta

 Eleanor Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’s Journey is a remarkable guide for many family caregivers who are taking care of elderly family members. Written as a memoir and based on her actual experience of taking care of her sick and elderly mother, One Caregiver’s Journey truly provides valuable insights. In her book, Ellie shares her transformation, the challenges she encountered, the lessons she learned, and the heart-warming journey she had with her mother. Although the book is not written from the perspective of a professional caregiver, many informal caregivers can relate to her book and her story.

To learn more about family caregiving, Eleanor Gaccetta, and her book One Caregiver’s Journey, you can visit her website today.