Categorized | Family Care

Considerations before becoming a caregiver

By Doug Peck

Not everyone is suited to being a caregiver. Before assuming caregiving duties, it is important that caregivers participate in a process that Bernie Siegel, the physician who specializes in self-care for cancer therapy, calls “carefrontation,” a time of introspection to help potential caregivers determine if they can legitimately embrace the role.

Introspection is an honest appraisal of capabilities when caregivers take a truthful look at who they are and what they can handle physically, emotionally, and mentally.

An impulsive or reactive choice to be a caregiver can lead to abuse of the care recipient, poor physical or emotional health, or fiscal fraud. Determining how much time can be spent performing caregiving tasks, how much money can be contributed, or what special skills can be offered is an important part of reflection. Another consideration is emotional support — how much the caregiver will need as well as how much the caregiver can provide for the care recipient.

Are you cut out for caregiving? Questions to ask yourself:

 1. Are you a nurturer?

2. What in your background supports being a nurturer?

3. Do you have any unresolved anger over how the care recipient treated you in the past?

4. Were you physically or sexually abused by the potential care recipient?

5. How is your health and stamina? Do you have the energy to be a principal caregiver?

6. What is your prime motivation for caregiving — guilt, family obligations, or love?

7. What duty and obligation do you believe you have to the potential care recipient?

8. Can you express your feelings and your opinions even when they are unpopular?

9. Can you comfort friends and family members when they are in distress?

10. Do you know your limits, and do you honor them?

11. Do you know how to manage stress? How well do you take care of yourself?

12. What role do religion and spirituality play in your life? Is it a support for you?

13. How would your family and home handle the addition of a parent or grandparent?

14. Do you work at home? Is your workspace separated from living space?

15. What kind of financial support can you provide?

16. Can you take on the responsibility of home care?

17. Can your home accommodate the care recipient’s needs? Could you remodel?

18. What sorts of support systems exist in your community to help you with caregiving?

19. Can you easily ask for help if you require it?

20. Can you set and maintain boundaries?

Author’s Note: This article is courtesy of The Society of Certified Senior advisors. We use it as a general guide when we hire caregivers. It is important to understand the potential caregivers motivation and how they have coped in the past. Caregiving is a very serious commitment and it is good to ask yourself these, or similar questions, before you make a commitment.

Doug Peck, CSA is a Certified Senior Advisior and the owner of Seniors Helping Seniors of Metrowest. He can be reached at 508-485-1765. Visit his website at

One Response to “Considerations before becoming a caregiver”

  1. I cared for my Mom for 5 years on a consistent basis. She had dementia, conjestive heart failure, arterial defibulation, and COPD. The last two years I was, on a day by day basis with her, she could not be left alone. This past year was extremely difficult. Seeing her personality/identity fade a little bit every day that passed was emotionally draining. Physically she was able to move around until the end of her life. She spent 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital and 12 days at her home in Hospice Care, I was the sole caregiver with my Dad. Taking care of him now emotionally as I have for the past 5 years is not very draining, however, I am sure I will be his sole caretaker in the future. My Mom passed away November 16, 2012 and this Holiday season is difficult for my Dad and other family members. Your article on making sure you are capable of being a caregiver was great. People do take on the role for their elderly parents, and they really have no clue all of the work and time that does go into it. I loved my Mom, and I love my Dad. I decided to take care of them years ago out of love and for no other reason. I say it has to be love or one will not be a good caregiver,

    Nancy Guenthner


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