Every family has a caregiving story…For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Most couples have used these words as marriage vows.
I’d venture to say, however, that during those tender moments in front of friends and family, most people don’t give much thought to what I like to refer to as their “caregiving years.” They probably haven’t discussed how changing circumstances over the years will affect their relationship, quality of life, financial situation and home life, and the help they will be required to give or receive.
And can you blame them? Even if you’re not the marrying sort, life happens and most of us will discover that someone needs our help—or, perhaps, that we need help ourselves.
Family caregiving is, nevertheless, a very personal choice. If you’re ready, willing and able to take it on, it can be a labour of love or a duty based on guilt and obligation. It can be offered hands-on or from afar, and on a full- or part-time basis. It can be for a short time or for years. Looking after someone else can be fraught with financial challenges, emotions and hope, mixed with disappointment when there is no apparent fix or solution.
Those who have walked before us will attest to the fact that assuming the role as a “carer,” is filled with moments of tenderness, kindness, awkwardness and, unfortunately, frustration and tribulation. But, for better or worse, richer or poorer, for those of us who opt to “stay calm and keep on caring,” caregiving is simply part of everyday family life. And we’re not alone.