Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice - Sheboygan, WI

Caring for Caregivers

Caring for Caregivers
(The Sheboygan Press February 2014 MOXIE edition, by Angelia Neumann)

Are you a caregiver?  Are you the one someone else depends on for transportation, meal preparation, or help around the house?   Perhaps you tend to personal care needs, such as bathing, feeding, and even medical care. More than 65.7 million Americans spend an average of 20 hours a week providing care for a friend or family member.  In addition to the physical demands, caregivers are also spending billions of dollars annually to support their loved ones.  Individuals caring for a loved one with a life-limiting illness face an ever-increasing work load, and though many want to do everything they can for their loved one, they need help.

Identifying what you need and where to get it is difficult when you are caring for someone else.  However, if you want to give your loved one your best, it’s important to take a moment to identify your needs.  Do you have enough time, physical strength, and knowledge to manage all the tasks well?  Since most caregivers are adults with families and/or health issues of their own, you probably have some needs of your own that you are ignoring.  I encourage you to write down all the tasks you are managing and be honest about how confident and comfortable you are with each of them.  Then, call a hospice provider to get the help you need.
Hospice providers assist caregivers in meeting the needs of their loved ones.  You can remain the primary caregiver and gain valuable education, tools, and service support when need it.  Your hospice provider should listen to your needs as well as the needs of your loved one.  Together you can create a care plan that you are comfortable with. Helping you understand your options and what to expect as your loved one’s needs increase, and equipping you to meet those needs with confidence should be a priority for your hospice provider. Individuals have the right to choose their own hospice care provider and can change providers at any time. 

If you are caring for your loved one at home around the clock, home hospice services are available to you. However, you may need a break.  You want to give your best, so you must take care of yourself too.  Respite care is available for patients who are enrolled in hospice care.  You may be able to temporarily transfer your loved one to a hospice care facility or arrange for additional support in your home.  The better you care for yourself, the better you can care for others.

Remember that calling a hospice provider is not giving up; it is giving your best. You will have more knowledge, more confidence, and more support in caring for your loved one.