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

 In Enrichment

There are pros and cons to being a caregiver for someone in your own family. 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.

A team of Care Partners may be able to provide more than we’re able to on our own. With that in mind, 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 then? 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 lending a helping hand from time to time —  taking a friend to their doctor’s appointment or having a heartfelt conversation 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 Caregiver for a Family Member

If you’re considering becoming the primary caregiver for a family member, 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 to a family member or loved one is that you get the opportunity to enjoy your time together and bond through the experience. Enjoying family time is a beautiful thing, and if you have children at home, this may be a great way for them to share moments with an elderly family member.

Seniors in the parking lot of OESH.

Cons

CARE

Depending on the level of care your loved one requires, becoming a caregiver for a family member may not be in the best interest of their health. Through no fault of your own, you might not be equipped 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 these responsibilities come from a 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 the dependency of a loved one continues to naturally increase with age, your own ability to care for them 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. Becoming a caregiver for a family member will increase your responsibilities and likely your stress levels too (even though you love them to the moon and back!). From spending time providing the care they need to shouldering any daily financial responsibilities you must while managing an evolving home life dynamic, becoming a caregiver for a family member can be a struggle if you’re not prepared for the new responsibilities.

A caregiver and an OESH elder smiling.

 

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??)

A woman getting soft serve ice cream from a 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.