Are You a Good Caregiver?

When there is a serious illness in your family, family members have to become caregivers. This seems like a pretty straight forward thing to accept – BUT are you a good caregiver?

The answer to that probably depends on what the definition of a good caregiver is. It is one thing to prepare food and bring drinks etc to someone who is recovering from an illness. But it is quite another thing when you have to assist with showers, drying, dressing, wheelchairs, workers or crutches, physiotherapy exercises, visits to medical staff etc.

Many patients need to have assistance with exercises on a regular basis. Sometimes the patient is co-operative, at other times they are not, particularly if they are in pain. If you can not only help with all these necessary activities but also provide motivation and inspiration to your patient, then I would call you a good caregiver.

But what happens if all that you are doing actually brings your health down? My husband had a full knee replacement two years after my stroke and brain tumour. He was my official carer because I could not read, handle money or remember names, dates etc. On his return home from hospital, I became his unofficial caregiver.

After only two days of helping him (the exercises alone took an hour three times a day), I got severe pain in my shoulder and back. I needed him to massage anti inflammatory cream into me and then I had to sit with a hot wheat pack until the spasms of pain subsided.

This is very distressing for the caregiver who knows that their family patient is relying on them for help and assistance. But we have coped by acknowledging that one helps the other as much as they are able to. I believe this makes us both ‘good caregivers’!

But don’t forget that in Australia you can get Government help with such things as bathing, housework, shopping etc. BUT – it is more easily available if you make arrangements before you actually need them. For example you can get assistance once a week for housework for four weeks following surgery. However, if you do not insist on this being available for when you get home it may take one or two weeks to arrange and then you will only get the help for the last two weeks.

Some hospitals are very good at helping you to organise home help. I found staff at Monash Hospital in Melbourne very helpful. You can read about how I coped when I returned home from hospital and the unbelievable stress I experienced as one problem after another occurred.

Tips and Hints

Set yourself a routine to make sure that you are able to provide all the necessary care your loved one needs. Make arrangements to get Government assistance while your loved one is still in hospital (or before) for short term emergency relief. If available get a group of family or friends to assist on a regular basis. All of this will ensure that you are a good caregiver.

32 thoughts on “Are You a Good Caregiver?

  1. Ash Kingsley

    I like your tips a lot. Not only do they help ‘good’ caregivers, the advice makes them ‘great’ ones. As mentioned in a separate comment, health is priority and ensuring that we are thorough in addressing another person’s needs in all areas – whether it be regulatory, forms, etc. is key.

  2. Lisa Perkins

    Caregiving should have been done by a professional from the beginning for the both of your recoveries…. It’s just way too hard on Family members and loved ones to take this kind of responsibility themselves… Especially after all you had gone through.

  3. Ana B.

    This is a good reminder for all of us on how best to care for loved ones if they get sick. I agree with your tip to set a routine.

  4. Mary McKinney

    I’m hoping I am. My mother doesn’t complain, but there are still instances I worry a lot about this very question.

  5. Wendy Mitchell

    For me, I was unable to care for my father, due to my own illness that was getting worse. I ended up having to put him in a board and care home. It was the best thing for everyone.

  6. stanza

    its definitely helpful to get relatives and friends for assistance.We always do the same and whenever needed by other,provide the assistance to others.

  7. jackson ripper

    Im a very loving and helpful son so when my mother had her accident , it didnt bother me at all to help her out in her time of need.

  8. Chris W.

    I love your definition of what it is to be a good caregiver. I also cannot agree more that you need to get assistance early, so you, too, receive support. I believe that no person can do it all themselves and that every good caregiver needs support and an occasional break, so he/she can be as effective as possible.

  9. rose

    It is great to hear about you and your husband and the support you have for each other. Wonderful information on getting assistance.

  10. Jack J

    Yes, I have kind of had to learn the hard way as I went, as to what was needed to be a good caregiver. These things have become very familiar to me now but always good to think about and have a plan for.

  11. Joe King

    I hope that if it ever comes to this, that I will be able to care for my loved ones as best as I can.

  12. Hailey Singer

    All I know is that if ever a situation like this was to happen, I would put my all into being the best caregiver that I could be.

  13. Jane

    I am sure some people would question whether they are an outstanding caregiver. Its hard work. It would be terrific to form some sort of network where carers can get together and discuss issues that are concerning them etc.

  14. sarwar

    its definitely helpful to get relatives and friends for assistance.I like your tips a lot. Not only do they help ‘good’ caregivers, the advice makes them ‘great’ ones.

  15. Marie L.

    I’d like to think I’ve been a good caregiver according to your criteria. Planning ahead is very important.

  16. Brian

    I helped my aunt w/ my uncle who had tumor removed from brain stem. I can say this, it is very tough when you are thrust into being a caregiver. From my personal experience, it does add onto your own years from stress and emotional side.

  17. Tomas

    good caregivers are really in need. this article made me realise that you need to care for other people when they are ill and hopefully they will be there for you if you ever need them

  18. MBW

    I think this is another prime example of having a set plan so many don’t have to face what this patient had to go through.

  19. Matt

    Sometimes being a carer can be so testing! But the reward is worth it, I get this rarely from small things and your blog has helped me remember there is more to come. Thanks!

  20. Indumathi Palanisamy

    Thank you so much,I like your tips a lot. Not only do they help ‘good’ caregivers, the advice makes them ‘great’ ones.


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