If you’re a family member who just woke up to find yourself in the role of caregiver to your parent or other relative, you are not alone. Family members provide the vast majority of long-term care, typically in their own home or the older person’s home. Some say that as much as 95% of all long-term care gets provided in this way, by what we refer to as “informal caregivers.”
Although men certainly provide some “informal care”, that phase is basically a euphemism that usually refers to women – wives, daughters, and daughters-in-law. Remarriage and domestic-partner arrangements can create some unusual circumstances as well, and former daughters-in-law and even ex-wives may become unexpected caregivers at times.
Despite strong feelings of obligation and social pressure, it can be a great mistake to undertake caregiving if you are ill suited or ill prepared. Making the commitment deserves serious consideration. Caregivers have been shown to have more physical and mental illness than those who do not give such care.
ElderCare at Home offers a complementary Family Self- Assessment Test which offers a simple set of questions that will help you set off on this journey. Answer the questions and review your answers to get some insights into your situation, Discuss your answers with those who will be most affected by your caregiving decision: your spouse, your siblings, perhaps your children.
You can take the Family Self-Assessment Test here
Interpreting Your Responses to the Self-Assessment
There are no right or wrong answers. It is a self-diagnostic tool, designed to spur insights and begin conversations. Look at the patterns of your responses and decide if you are prepared to undertake the caregiver role.
The first nine items address issues that should be answered affirmatively if you are ready to take on caregiving. If you cannot say “yes” to at least six, you should think carefully about taking on the caregiver role In some cases even one question can be a deal breaker.
Items 10 to 12 address ways of getting support to maintain caregiving. You should have some of those if you are going to succeed.
The last two items are things to think about; they may not directly affect your decision, but they will influence your caregiving experience.
You may not be ready to give a definite yes or no answer to some of the questions. In those cases, they should serve as prompts for areas where you need to learn more, or discuss these topics with family and others.
If you have any questions or would like to speak with a professional geriatric care manager, feel free to call us at 800-209-4342