Caring. Carer. Caregiving. What it is to care for someone cannot be captured by words. It can be the most extraordinary, heartbreaking, magical and difficult kind of work.
It takes a special kind of person to care for others and often times, those with a calling for care find themselves returning to this kind of work again and again. If it’s in you, it’s in you.
But I’m sure many would agree that there were a few things they weren’t counting on when they started. Here is a list of the six things that nobody tells you about being a Carer.
You will have a new appreciation for quality of life – I’m sure that at some point, we all defined 'quality of life' with qualities like luxury or abundance. When you start caring you see quality of life as a being able to fulfill your wants and needs on your own terms - and you'll see how easily it can be lost. You’ll find yourself going above and beyond to offer kindness, genuine companionship and meaningful support to allow those you care for to thrive.
You will understand what dignity truly means – Asking for help is difficult when we have to admit we'd rather do something independently but can't. But help is also when we do things with someone rather than for them. Engaging with the person in your care about everyday decisions, giving them the freedom choose and supporting their independence by finding new ways of doing things that everyone can be happy with - these are all ways to make sure those who need care feel seen and feel valued. This is what dignity is.
You will have to hold the line - Some days (possibly many) will be hard. Caring comes with challenges and inevitably loss and heartbreak. Life is messy and nothing about that changes with aging. Know your limits, breathe through it, you got this. The reward of watching someone enjoying their life because you've made a difference is worth hanging on for.
Your bag will never be empty – Your handbag or carryall will never be entirely yours again. It will be filled with all the goodies and gadgets so you’re prepared for just about anything whether it's an extra hanky or a spare set of Mr. R’s keys.. I remember diving into my Mary Poppins bag to find the roll of mints I kept because I knew they were Ms. K’s favourite.
There will be moments that mean everything – Carers see people at both their wisest and most vulnerable stage in life. And the people you care for will make an impression on you that is lasting. Don’t be surprised if a certain song sparks a special memory of someone you cared for, or a certain treat or trip to a special place you used to take your person. You will collect dozens of wonderful moments with you and take them with you forever.
You will have to invest in yourself - You will need breaks. It a total cliché but self-care is so important for carers. You can’t give what you don’t have, so take time for yourself and indulge in what makes you joyful. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need a break but have caring responsibilities, get some respite support so that you can fill your cup for the road ahead.
At the CareCompany our person-centered care principle extends to families and carers too. Our team is not only well trained, but is made up of genuinely kind and compassionate people who are committed to protecting quality of life.
If you or a loved one need support you can trust, our team are on hand to offer you more information and support. We're here to help!