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The Many Faces of Caregiving

Carol Bradley identifies a caregiver as a person who takes at least some part of the responsibility for the welfare of someone sick, elderly or disabled.

There is not one specific definition of a caregiver, every individual situation is unique. Some caregivers start off by assisting a loved one with their finances, cleaning their house, or helping them get to and from their doctor’s appointments. A caregiver might immediately take over assisting with bathing, getting dressed and going to the bathroom.

A caregiver could live in the same house or reside miles away. Caregivers could be taking care of aging parents, an ailing spouse, or their children and a parent at the same time.

I read an article suggesting there are four main caregiver categories. Each has its own opportunities. Which type of caregiver might you be?

Long-distance Caregiver
These caregivers assist their elderly loved ones – but live in a different city and sometimes a different state. However, just because the caregiver lives far away doesn’t mean they aren’t often responsible for their family member’s finances, medical care and personal needs. One of the most difficult aspects of being a long-distance caregiver is figuring out how to keep an eye on your loved one from far away.

The Sandwich Generation
These caregivers created their own “buzzword” for the type of caregiving they provide. These caregivers are sandwiched between taking care of their younger children, sometimes their grandchildren, and looking out for their own aging parents.

The Spousal Caregiver
The vow, “in sickness and in health” takes on a new meaning when a person finds themselves taking care of a spouse with a serious illness. When a life partner becomes a patient, the caregiver is faced with a host of new situations that could include anything from memory loss to role reversal in the relationship.

The Working Caregiver
The dilemma the working caregiver is faced with is considering if they should quit their job to care for their loved one. We are in an era where adults – both male and female – are in the workforce. In turn, the number of working caregivers is on the rise. The working caregiver is holding down a part-time or full-time job while making sure their loved one is cared for.

There is no cookie-cutter formula for the endless roller-coaster ride that is caregiving. However, Adult/Geriatric Care Management programs are available to provide suggestions and recommendations to all types of caregivers. Care managers become partners with caregivers and their loved ones. These programs can help families manage the many issues associated with aging and healthcare. Your local Aging and Disability Resource center (ADRC) is a great resource to find an Adult/Geriatric Care Management program in your area. To find an Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) in your area click here:

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/adrc/consumer/index.htm

Kathleen Weston
Preceptor Director of Hospice