Family Caregiver Responsibilities

Family caregiving often precedes funerals at funeral homes in Marengo, IL. Whether it’s one spouse caring for the other spouse, or children (or nieces and nephews for aunts or uncles) caring for parents, caregiving has become a fixture as life’s journey moves toward its end. 

For people who have not been family caregivers, there is often a shroud of mystery about what is involved. That can lead to remarks that may seem harmless, but that can be hurtful or damaging because there are so many responsibilities associated with family caregiving. 

The first thing that everyone should know about family caregiving is that it is a volunteer job that often transitions from occasionally to part-time and, finally, to full-time. There is no pay and many times children end up giving up jobs – and income – to care for an aging parent or aging parents. 

The job, however, is as diseases and illnesses progress, a 24-hour-a-day job. With illnesses such as strokes, where movement and speech are significantly impaired, there is some hard labor involved in moving the affected person from place to place. With diseases like dementia, constant vigilance is required to make sure the affect person is safe (and to comfort, because this is mentally debilitating disease that includes not only forgetfulness, but fear as memory and cognition decline and everyone becomes a stranger). 

Family caregivers attend to the physical and emotional needs of an aging loved one. They are responsible for preparing and serving food (and cleaning dishes), attending to daily grooming, doing laundry, managing medication, arranging appointments and taking their loved one to them, and for assessing and administering to all the person’s needs (emotional and physical) on a continual basis, including ER visits, hospitalizations, home health care, palliative care, and hospice care. 

Personal care is one of the responsibilities of family caregivers. This may include toileting, bathing and shampooing hair, styling hair, brushing teeth, moisturizing skin, and dressing. Not everyone will need the same level of assistance, and it’s important to the dignity of the loved one being cared for to be able to do as much as they can for themselves (it may take a lot longer than it would for the caregiver to do it, but parents do this with children as they grow up, so it’s part of fulfilling that circle of life). 

Mobility assistance is another key part of family caregiving. Some people may need wheelchairs (Medicare will pay for one, so it’s a good idea to have one on hand in case), while others may be able to use walkers (always walk behind, especially if stability is an issue). For loved ones who are confined to bed or are mainly sitting, repositioning them to prevent bedsores may be required, as may be special padding for beds or chairs to make them more comfortable. 

Great attention to food preparation and service is required of family caregivers. Many times, the loved one has diet restrictions (low-sodium for high blood pressure or heart disease and non-crumbly foods for swallowing issues that often occur in late-stage dementia and ALS) that must be adhered to, while making sure they get a healthy and balanced diet. Included in this aspect is often the administration of medication. Some medications are liquid and can be mixed in juices, coffee or tea, or water (maintaining hydration can also be an issue). When pill forms of medication get difficult to swallow, putting them in applesauce (which should be kept on hand) is an excellent way to make them easier to swallow. 

One of the most overlooked, but very important, parts of being a family caregiver is providing emotional support to a loved one. Whether that’s reading to them, listening to them, sitting with them and holding their hand, or any other manifestation of being there for them, this is critical to successful caregiving.  

Family caregiving is often the last stop before funerals at funeral homes in Marengo, IL, and our caring and knowledgeable staff at Collins & Stone Funeral Home can help family caregivers as they make final arrangements for their loved ones. You can see us at our funeral home at 128 S 5th Street, Rockford, IL 61104, or you can contact us today at (815) 965-1515.  

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