This post originally started as a social media post that was supposed to be quick, simple and straight to the point. Then, as I started writing the caption it became clear that I would not be able to convey my message in 2,000 characters or less. This is a good thing because I haven’t been active on my blog and myths like the ones I am dispelling in the following words are important to discuss out loud. Yes, out loud and in a community of people who need to know this information. The truth is, we all have these misconceptions until you are actually in the situation that puts you on the caregiver role.
Myth #1- Caregiving for an aging loved one won't be until much later in life when you’re nearing retirement. The reality is, you can become the caregiver at any scene in the play of life. Some of us choose it as our profession, some of us are assisting someone who is going through it and others of us quite literally fall into the role. Regardless of how it happens, it can happen at any given moment and the key thing is to be prepared with enough knowledge and resources to support yourself as you support your loved one. More on that to come…
Myth #2- There's plenty of government assistance to help caregivers keep their aging loved ones at home. Wrong again, as we can see at this moment in our economy, resources are very limited. Whenever I get to the finance part of the care plan with my caregivers I’m still floored by this misconception. They’ll say something to the effect of “Medicare is gonna pay for this, right?” Unfortunately, Medicare is extremely limited/strict on what financial commitments they will approve.
Myth #3- Your family physician has all the expertise you need to help you manage caring for your aging loved one. There are no two ways around this one...if your aging loved one is over the age of 70 with serious health concerns, they NEED to have an MD with a geriatric specialty. They just do, periodt! (we can fight about it later if you disagree). The average general practitioner has no idea what your aging loved one (and you as the caregiver) are going through as it concerns day to day disease management. What’s worse, they don’t know/have the proper resources to refer you to either.
Myth #4 You can be a full-time caregiver, employee, parent, spouse, and friend. I think this is the biggest offender of them all… Don’t get me wrong, you definitely can be all of these things. Attempting to do all of the full-time, however, is quite literally inviting burnout over for dinner every night. This is probably where I work with my caregivers the most. Teaching them how to create the balance that best suits their wants/needs, lifestyle, family values/structure, and cultural/societal norms. Once you have a structure of how you will move forward in your caregiver journey, you can feel more empowered to ask (and in some cases demand) for what works best for everyone involved in the caregiver circle.
These myths are by no means and an exhaustive list of the mistruths that are circulating in the healthcare and caregiving communities, but they happen to be some to the more frequently raised issues that I come across. I hope that this information helps a caregiver, or soon to be caregiver, that needs to know it.
As always please remember, in all your giving of care please be sure to take care too. Sending you all BIG LOVE.