If you have a close relative or friend who has made the decision that they are going to be aging in place as they continue to get older, it may be tempting to jump right in and volunteer to be their caregiver. If your kind heart and empathetic feelings are responding to a need that someone you deeply care about has you may want to be the first one to raise your hand. This is a kind sentiment, but it is the right thing for you and for your loved one?
You will want to take some time to think about the pros and cons of being a volunteer caregiver for your loved one and whether she/he may be better off with someone that is hired to do the job versus someone who has volunteered.
It is certainly commonplace for a relative or a friend to be the primary caregiver for someone who is aging in place, in fact 86% of all caregivers in the United States are related to the person who care is being provided. Most people who are getting older in the U.S. are aging in place with just 11% of the older population in this country being cared for in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Therefore, if you decided to be the one caring for your loved one you would certainly be in good company.
It is important to have answers to a few questions before you decide how you want to proceed when it is clear that one of your loved ones is in need of a caregiver. Take time to answer these questions for yourself and with your family to insure that you are comfortable with the roles and responsibilities that come with providing care for your loved one.
1.) What kind of time commitment will be required of me to care for my loved one?
2.) Will the amount of time required to care for my loved one increase over time and if so, by how much?
3.) Will there be help for me from other family members so that the burden doesn’t fall entirely to me as time goes by?
4.) Do I have the skills necessary to provide the right level of care for my loved one and if not can I acquire these skills?
5.) Is my loved one comfortable with me being the person who is providing them care over a long period of time?
Asking these questions before you get too deep into the role of caregiver is so important to insure that you and your loved one are comfortable with the relationship moving forward and that you will not grow to have resentment or anger towards the person you are caring for.
If your loved one decides that she/he is going to be aging in place it can be tempting to roll up your sleeves and get right to work helping them with their needs. It can however, become a long-term commitment that you may find difficult over time. It is important to look at all angles before committing to your loved one to be their long-term caregiver.