5 Pros and Cons of Being a Caregiver for a Family Member

 In Enrichment

Being a caregiver for someone in your own family has its upsides and its downsides. In an ideal world, we would all have the skills, space, and time to personally provide the very best for our loved ones, but life isn’t always so straightforward! Sometimes, through no failing of our own, providing the best for someone we love means admitting that we need some help. Sometimes a team of Care Partners can provide more than we’re able. Let’s take a look at some of the major pros and the cons of being a caregiver for a family member.

One person holds a COVID-19 pinata while another swings at it.

Caretaker vs. Caregiver

While it may be a minor semantic debate, Writing Explained provides a helpful breakdown of the words “caretaker” and “caregiver” that may help us reframe the idea of an all-or-nothing approach to providing care. So what is a caregiver exactly? According to the post, a “caregiver” is “one who supports another person.” The term “caretaker” similarly means, “one who gives support to another person.”

At first glance, these words mean exactly the same thing, and they pretty much do mean exactly the same thing. But to me, the definition for a caregiver implies a constant presence, while the “caretaker” version of support feels more like meeting a friend for coffee to help them through a tough time.

Now, in reality, these words can be and are used more or less interchangeably. That’s totally fine. I bring up this potential distinction to emphasize a point: Providing care doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can be a person “who gives support to another person” without being a 24/7 caregiver. You can give support by choosing to remain emotionally available, by visiting frequently, and in some cases, by placing a loved one with a person or persons who can support them full-time.

How to Be a Caretaker for a Family Member

If you’re considering being a traditional caregiver for your loved one, it’s worth weighing the pros and cons honestly before making your decision. Let’s take a look!

Pros

STRONG STRUCTURE

There are definite benefits to a structured environment for seniors — one where activities and meals happen on a regular schedule. This is especially true if your loved one has a mental or physical disability. In a care home with many people, it isn’t always possible to give seniors the organized setting that would best suit their needs.

FAMILY TIME

One clear benefit of being a caregiver for a loved one is that you get to enjoy the good times and hopefully bond through the experience. Enjoying family time is a beautiful thing, and if you have children, this may be a great way for them to share moments with an elderly family member.

Cons

CARE

Depending on the level of care your loved one requires, you may not be able to adequately provide for them. This problem can increase exponentially as medical concerns start to crop up. If you’re like most people, you already have extensive responsibilities outside of the home. Whether that’s your job, a busy schedule driving the kids everywhere, or something else, you should be sure you’re able to add to it since taking off work or hiring a nanny for the kids isn’t a viable option for most. As their dependency continues to naturally increase with age, your own ability to care for a loved one may become strained, even if it wasn’t at first.

PRIVACY

With more people in a house comes less privacy — for both you and your loved one. It may also mean less independence for your loved one if they are forced to rely on you to get around and provide basic assistance for them. If your loved one doesn’t require a lot of care and has the desire to maintain their independence, this will be substantially easier.

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES

This may be the most obvious con, but just like “enjoying family time” above, it’s obvious for a reason. Taking in your loved one will increase both your responsibilities and your stress level immensely. From the care they need to the added financial responsibilities, it can add up quickly. You’ll need to make sure you can dedicate time to your loved one or they might feel forgotten despite being in the same house as you.

A caregiver in burgundy scrubs with a mask.

Curious to Explore Care Options?

At The Ohio Eastern Star Home we’re trained to provide our Elders with the compassion, care, and community they deserve. From our ever-evolving list of senior activities like field trips and pet therapy to physical rehabilitation for those who require an extra helping hand. (And who can forget the soft serve ice cream machine??)

We’re proud to be such a popular choice for senior care in Knox County because it means our work as caregivers is making an impact. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.