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Caregiving is the act of giving care to another. Giving care can be brief, intermittent, and long term. Becoming a caregiver might happen suddenly due to a major change in health. The role can also unfold gradually over time.

Caregivers are often people who are selfless, pick up the slack, helpers who you can rely on in tough situations. Caregivers tend to be really good at giving and helping people in need. Being needed is a big part of what draws caregivers to give in this role. It can be satisfying to feel helpful. As the need of a person increases, more is required of a caregiver. Being in the unique position that only you can understand as caregiver makes it hard to imagine others helping or understanding what the job entails. This belief may be reinforced by the person being cared for. You may have tried to let others help and then find yourself more overwhelmed because you are also dealing with how that experience impacted the person you are caring for.

Each caregiver’s situation is unique and comes with specific challenges. Caregivers meet need after need. What tends to be overlooked and neglected are the needs of the caregiver herself.

The grandmother who stepped in to provide live in childcare during the pandemic and has lost her identity outside of caregiving.

The son who travelled as much as work and weekends would allow to care for his mother who experienced a fall and lost family time.

The daughter who took a leave from work to care for her dying mother.

The husband who gradually became caregiver to his wife with early onset Alzheimer’s.

The wife who is parenting and caregiving for her husband whose abilities are forever changed while serving his country.

The experiences leading up to becoming a caregiver are varied. There’s often a sense of urgency to meet the specific needs of someone you care deeply for. In the chaos of trying to just keep things afloat, we make sacrifices. You may have had to leave a job or juggle caregiving and a job. You might be navigating various family dynamics and parenting. You might not have relief or respite care. It’s easy not to see our self care and parts of our identity erode in this role. Work, the gym, running groups, play dates, mom meetups, date nights, children’s sports events, classes, errands, happy hour, meeting friends. How can we possibly balance it all? How are you managing as a caregiver?

Written by:

Lauren Pena MFT, ATR, LMFT # 130687

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