| As family caregivers, we play many roles: scheduler, money manager, house cleaner, health aide, nurse, navigator, nurturer and more. Perhaps the most important role, though, is advocate, as we ensure the best life possible for our loved ones when they are vulnerable.
That includes understanding their wishes for care and quality of life, and making sure those wishes are respected. It means helping them manage financial and legal matters. And it means making sure they receive appropriate services and treatments, of the highest quality, when they need them. We are their voices when they are unable to advocate for themselves.
If the thought of being an advocate for others seems overwhelming, relax. You probably already have the skills to be effective; you just need to develop and apply them in new ways. Here are the five attributes I think are most important.
1. Powers of observation
Caregivers are often too busy or exhausted to notice small changes, but the slightest shift in our loved ones’ abilities, health, moods, safety needs or desires may indicate a much larger medical or mental health issue. Catching those changes early can make all the difference in alleviating the problem.
Equally crucial is keeping a close eye on the services they are receiving and adjusting any subpar care. The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered this kind of observation, preventing many caregivers from accompanying loved ones to the hospital or visiting them at home or in a long-term care facility.