Taking care of a family member or a loved one who has a debilitating physical or mental health condition can be a fulfilling yet very intense journey – one with unique emotional, practical and spiritual needs.
The well being of family caregivers has a far reaching impact not only on themselves but on their care recipients, families, workplaces and the economy.
Interestingly, most caregivers only recognise that they are so almost 2 years after they have begun the journey. Whether its a gradual or sudden change that makes you a family caregiver, it usually seems to be a natural even if unexpected part of being in a relationship. Usually? Yes, usually because sometimes caregiving checks into a stormy relationship and makes an “it’s complicated” relationship an “it’s very complicated” relationship.
Errmm back to why it takes two years. 2 years is research in other countries. Kenya has a dearth of information on family care-giving. I can only guess its because for most of us, we muster all our inner strength and get to do what we need to do until ….. the demands which are heavy, the passage of time, waning stamina, exhaustion and stress, balancing busy work and family schedules, balancing other key relationships check in. Or, our expectations of ourselves and expectations of others about us cause us to battle caregiver guilt, depression so we clam up. Or, others don’t play their part and we start to feel like we are carrying what in an ideal world should be a shared responsibility but in a real world isn’t. Or,….so many ors.
By this time for many, caregiver stress and burnout have checked in, unpacked their suitcases, pulled out the bedroom slippers and started to get comfortable. The challenge is not many family caregivers recognise the signs of this unwanted guests. Sadly when the caregiver starts to battle depression, because of stigma, they may not get help and you have a family caregiver who is need of care herself or himself.