How to find peace in accepting your caregiving identity.
This article was written by a guest contributor, and the views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author.
“It’s just something I do.” Many people do not realize or identify they are in a caregiving role — sometimes it is because it is part of their culture or family dynamic, or it has slowly come into their lives.
If you have not already been there, chances are that caregiving for a senior will be a part of your life at some point. Caregiving roles can be rewarding but can also be isolating and emotionally and financially stressful.
Supports are available for individuals caring for seniors, such as resource navigation, emotional support, education and respite opportunities. It is important for caregivers to be able to identify their roles and to know they are not alone in their journey.
"Caregiving is not meant to be done alone."
– Samantha Norberg
A caregiver’s role
Caregivers for seniors are spouses, partners, parents, children, family or friends who perform responsibilities outside of their relational role, including assistance with daily tasks such as medication administration, meal preparation and appointment management. They can also provide emotional support, behavioural intervention and advocacy.
Photo courtesy of Canva.
Care can be provided in-person or at a distance — some caregivers do not even reside in the same city as the person they care for, but they are the first call in challenging moments.
Feeling that no one could understand, or not wanting to burden others with your struggles are normal reactions in the caregiver experience. However, caregiving is not meant to be done alone.
Becoming a caregiver also means that someone is unwell and marks the beginning of a new reality. New responsibilities combined with old responsibilities (that do not go away with caregiving) can create isolation.
Though more people are entering caregiving roles, it is often referred to as an invisible role. Many do not realize or identify they are caregiving for their senior — it is just something they do as family and friends. It is a role that we do not prepare for, nor receive recognition for.
Accepting your caregiver identity
Understanding your caregiver identity can positively influence your experiences and the care you can provide to your loved one. In doing so you can explore supports specifically created for you, whether that be through accessing counselling, resource support or connecting with other caregivers navigating a similar journey.
The opportunity to nurture both your relational role and caregiver role is available. You may be a caregiver of a senior, but you are always someone else.
Jewish Family Service Calgary (JFSC) is a non-denominational, accredited, non-profit social service agency dedicated to enriching lives and strengthening communities since 1961. It provides inclusive and accessible programs and services for individuals and families across their life spans, based on the values of compassion, social justice and improving the world.
Samantha Norberg is JFSC's Caregiver and Memory Care Specialist and a registered social worker.