Becoming a carer for an adult or child is always challenging, and not just from a physical perspective. It is a role that can quite easily take over your life – if you let it! There are many rewarding aspects to the job but make no mistake – you will have days when you pray for some respite. Before you take on the role of a carer for an adult with special needs, here are some things to think about.
Do You Have the Right Temperament?
Not everyone has the right temperament to be a carer for an adult with special needs. Just like a baby or fractious toddler, a special needs adult can be challenging. They may have emotional problems, cognitive difficulties, or physical limitations. To handle them effectively, you need to have bags of patience, good humor, and plenty of compassion and empathy.
If you are short-tempered, you lack patience, and you find it hard to relate to individuals with problems, you are not cut out for this role, even if that person is a loved one.
Is Your Home Equipped with the Right Facilities?
Consider what the person needs to be safe and comfortable. Then think about whether your home can accommodate that person’s needs. For example, if the person has mobility issues and can’t cope with stairs, is there a room on the ground floor that can be adapted as a bedroom? Do you have a bathroom that is suitable for them? Do you have an outdoor area where the person can spend some time enjoying the sunshine (if appropriate)? Is the property safe?
If your home isn’t suitable or cannot be adapted, the person may need to be moved to a more suitable facility.
Can You Handle the Physical Tasks Involved?
Caring for an adult with learning disabilities or special needs is often taxing. They may need to be lifted into a bath or bed, or if they are incontinent, they will need adult diapers or adult briefs. Think about how you will change adult diapers with tabs on a 220Ib adult with anxiety issues. Could you physically lift them if they fell out of bed? If you are small, weak, and unable to cope with routine caring tasks, this job is not for you.
The only exception is if you can get help with the physical tasks, like bathing, bedtime, and other areas where lifting may be involved. With a suitable care package in place, you might be able to find a workable solution.
Do You Have a Support System in Place?
You will need a support system to help you cope with the demands of caring for an adult with special needs. Your own needs take precedence here. If you don’t take care of yourself, it won’t be long before you get sick. Ask for respite help when you need it and take every opportunity to have a break when it all gets too much.
Caring for a loved one with special needs is very rewarding, but it is also hard work, so ask for help and don’t become a martyr.