“When caregiving falls in your lap, many times unannounced and unprepared, it’s ok to step back and to say what do I need to learn about this, who can I go to, to learn about his, how can I make my job easier, you are more than this one role that you play”
Earlier due to the joint families concept, caregiving responsibility was a shared responsibility, however nuclear families are on the rise. The role is falling on one primary caregiver and 60-80% of the time that person is a woman. As a result of the patriarchal system that still exists in India, women are typically stereotyped as the caregiver who can make self-sacrifices for the family.
If we identify ourselves as only caregivers that is their only identity and biggest accomplishment where they do not require anything else.However, we play many roles as a person but those do not give us our identity and neither should being a caregiver. In our other roles we learn and seek help when required, and so should caregivers.
Caregivers often consider self-care as a selfish act, but unless you take of yourself how will you be able to provide meaningful care to someone else?
When we neglect ourselves, it can lead to caregiver stress which can then end in depression. Feelings of frustration, anger and guilt are natural feelings that caregivers have either towards themselves or their loved ones or to the world. So it becomes imperative to reach out to others who have had or are going through similar experiences. To share your emotions with, to learn and to not feel alone.
As important as it is to be strong and face challenges, it is also healthy to take a step back, seek knowledge and find the right people to help.
If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.
As a healthcare professional, sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system at large. You can help bring back care into healthcare for the patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team.
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