Caregivers Count Too! - Section 3: Who Should Be Assessed?
Scenario: The Jones Family
Mrs. Jones has been caring for her husband for several months since he had a debilitating stroke, but she is also experiencing bouts of frail health. They’ve lived in their home together for 35 years. Now Mrs. Jones is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with household and outdoor chores in addition to managing her husband’s care. The Jones’ two children help out as much as they can and are active participants in their father’s health care. Their oldest son lives nearby and routinely assists with chores and preparing meals. Their other son lives 30 miles away and works the evening shift. He takes Mr. Jones to all of his medical appointments because Mrs. Jones does not feel comfortable driving. A concerned neighbor of the Jones’ came across the phone number for the local caregiver support program and called to request assistance for the Jones family.
Should anyone in this situation be assessed? If so, who? Mrs. Jones? Her two sons? The concerned neighbor?
Keeping in mind that your caregiver assessment approach has to make sense for your program and the resources you have, we offer for your consideration the advice of experts in the field:
- Anyone who self-identifies as a family caregiver should be offered a caregiver assessment. This inclusive perspective means that a caregiver assessment might be done for any or all of the following:
- Primary caregiver (spouse, partner, daughter, son)
- Other family members
- When the assessment involves the primary caregiver and one or more other family members, the assessment may be conducted with everyone together or with the individuals separately. It depends upon what they want and what is feasible logistically.
- The presence, or absence, of the care recipient during the caregiver assessment also depends upon the situation. Often a caregiver prefers to speak candidly without being heard by the care recipient. But that’s not always the case.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Not all caregivers identify themselves as such (I’m not a caregiver, I’m his wife—for better or worse…).
- When multiple family members are involved in caregiving, conflict resolution may be necessary to sort out roles and feelings.