Who is a caregiver? More than likely, the person in the next cubicle or the person standing next to you at the grocery store or perhaps, you. In other words, anyone who has aging parents, a child who needs around the clock care or the children who often times have to run errands, or an entire household, in order to keep things afloat.

Family caregivers are often overlooked, because they are not paid or simply because they themselves don’t identify as one. But, do you regularly make calls on behalf of your parents? Or are you the one in charge of your spouse’s medication schedule? Or are you constantly taking care of chores for your disabled uncle or aunt? Then you are a caregiver.

Family Caregivers encompass such a diverse group. According to an AARP study, caregivers come from every age, gender, socioeconomic and racial/ethnic group. The general consensus is that a Family Caregiver, whether paid or unpaid, helps a loved one with his or her activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and transferring. Other activities may include managing medications, scheduling and attending appointments, taking care of household chores and providing transportation.

Family Caregivers play such a pivotal role in our society, yet most people carrying out such a role don’t consider themselves a caregiver. The first step in obtaining the necessary support is becoming cognizant of the caregiving environment and figuring out what types of support would benefit both the person being cared for and the caregiver. Once the caregiving environment is identified the caregiver can more easily identify where the care gaps are (for themselves and their oved one) thus creating a healthier distribution of responsibilities and minimizing the chances for burnout. Support can look different for every family and may entail placing your loved one in a day center to allow for grocery shopping or a few hours of stillness. Support could also entail lining up a “caregiving group” who can act as a relay team in order to respond to needs much more effectively.

FSL is committed to educating and empowering Family Caregivers and their families in order to make caregiving an opportunity for growth and understanding, as opposed to confusion and suffering. If you are a Family Caregiver and wish to learn more about our educational series, or programs, please call us at 602-285-1800. If you would like to schedule the “Empowering Family Caregivers” workshops at your location please call Outreach Coordinator Nydia Montijo at 602-285-0505 x 153.

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