When we are not able to carry out our normal routine tasks due to physical disabilities (temporary or permanent), we depend on the services of our dear ones. Their care becomes important as it helps us lead our life in the best possible way. Even after we receive treatment at hospitals or nursing homes, we are cared for in our homes by our dear ones.
Similarly, in several cases of mental health issues, a person may not be in a position to lead an independent life. Depending on the illness and its severity, he or she will require the assistance of another person to carry out day-to-day tasks. In most cases, this care comes from the family of the patient. They are caregivers who offer unpaid services at home to people suffering from mental health issues so that the latter can lead a normal life.
Invariably, these caregivers are close family members – parents, siblings, spouses, or sometimes friends. Even as the availability of professional caregiving services is slowly picking up in India, it is the family member who has to play the crucial caregiver’s role for the person suffering from mental health issues.
The intensity and nature of caregiving will depend on the condition of the person with mental health problems. From patiently listening to the woes of their loved ones to taking care of their physical and emotional needs, caregivers will find themselves involved at several levels. The family members take up different roles of caregiving. Someone attends to the person’s physical needs, while someone else takes up the responsibility of arranging for financial support. There could be another family member who could focus on proving a strong emotional support. Sometimes, caregivers might need to learn certain skills to be able to better attend to their loved ones.
The services of caregivers not only mitigate the suffering of the person with mental health problems, but also ensure that they lead as normal a life as possible.
Caregivers, therefore, play an extremely crucial role in providing the social and economic balance to our societal structure. Their combined contribution to the economy is significant.
However, the lives of caregivers are full of challenges and struggle. They need the physical and emotional abilities to cope with the demanding role of a caregiver, and have to live with the not-so-supportive social environment.
In most cases, caregivers need a lot of medical, emotional and therapeutic assistance to be able to not only provide care to their dear ones, but also lead a good quality life themselves.
In our lifetime, most of us will get an opportunity to play the role of a caregiver. In this section, we will delve deeper into the world of caregivers to learn from their experiences. We will not only bring rich trove of knowledge and resources for those who are living their life as caregivers, but also help others empathize with the crucial contributions caregivers make to our society.