Caring for a family member, should they suffer from a physical or mental condition, is often challenging for everyone involved. While most families would describe their sick relatives using positive characteristics, on the whole, the reality of day-to-day life has a daunting, cumulative effect on caregivers. Being a caregiver to a person that suffers from disease means planning their errands and routines around their treatment plan and accommodating whatever difficulties being in this position might present. This paper discusses some of the common challenges faced by caregivers, ranging from psychological to logistic.
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It appears that many families that care for sick individuals report the lack of adequate resources that could lighten the burden that they are bearing. Namely, family members struggle with accessing relevant training programs, which means what they do in their day-to-day lives to help their relatives is often uninformed by medical evidence. It is readily imaginable how the scarcity of information can be not only frustrating but also plain dangerous.
On top of that, administrative inefficiency is often what caregivers have to deal with. Overloaded with work or insufficiently trained to participate in therapeutic communication, healthcare providers oftentimes ignore family members’ insights. This is unfortunate as it is family members who have visibility on what is happening to sick individuals. They should be in the position to report concerning signs, new symptoms, or a decline in a particular physical or mental capacity and have their voices heard. What aggravates the situation is the stigma that still accompanies some illnesses. For this reason, family members might feel ashamed of their status or see their requests for help as a sign of weakness. As a result, they do not access services promptly.
However, providing care in a family setting is not only logistically complicated. Being a 24/7 caregiver is likely to take a psychological toll on a person who, despite their best intentions, might feel trapped in their current situation. Adverse psychological effects stem from a variety of factors that are common for caregiver-receiver of care dynamics. For instance, family members who provide care may experience a lack of privacy due to the need to have constant interactions with the receiver of care. At the same time, caregivers may start feeling isolated from friends and family who are not involved in their dynamics. Apart from that, unlike trained professionals, they are barely ever off-duty, meaning that they need to be available at all times and stay vigilant. Their sleep-wake cycle can also be impacted by their responsibilities. It is not surprising that as many as 22% of caregivers report that their mental health has gotten worse as a result of their style.
To recapitulate, families are often the main providers of support, and their difficulties with dealing with the individual, their needs, and assessing services should be better acknowledged by the medical community. Challenges fall into various categories: logistic, administrative, and psychological. Logistically, caregiving means dealing with insufficient educational resources and accommodating a sick individual’s needs daily. When it comes to the administrative side of the question, medical facilities are often inefficient in terms of access to services or recognizing the needs of a family. Last but not least is the psychological toll that caregiving takes on individuals due to social isolation, lack of privacy, and sleep deprivation.