If you’re providing care for a family member who needs help with the daily tasks of living, you may find that your responsibilities leave little time for yourself. While caregiving is an honorable and loving role to play, it is not easy.
It takes energy, patience, physical ability and emotional endurance to provide daily care. And it can often become frustrating, as well as make you feel under-appreciated and then guilty for feeling so.
The needs of your loved one are well understood but the needs of the caregiver are commonly overlooked.
Regardless of your intentions and genuine devotion to a loved one, you will need a break. Although caregivers often feel uncomfortable when expressing their own needs, being able to take regular and refreshing pauses will also benefit your family member. Otherwise, you will become ill or exhausted and will no longer be able to care for your loved one or yourself.
If you don’t tend to yourself, you will eventually run out of energy and the ability to function as a caregiver. And you would not be alone. According to Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 report from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 36% of family caregivers characterize their situation as highly stressful.
In a 2018 study, 4 in 10 caregivers stated that they experienced depression, mood swings and even resentment due to these responsibilities. Caution is needed because over time the amount of wear and tear on the physical and emotional self takes a toll and can eventually lead to caregiver burnout.
Some of the causes from the report were listed as:
1. Conflicting demands from the loved one, other family members and work.
2. Lack of control over money and resources or skills needed to provide care.
3. Lack of privacy due to the demands of caregiving that may leave little time to be alone.
4. Unreasonable demands placed on the caregiver from the loved one or other family members.
5. Unrealistic expectations on what caregiving will be able to do, especially with progressive diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a break or you’ve been providing care for a long time, you may start noticing a few of these indicators:
1. You feel angry or frustrated much of the time.
2. You’re experiencing an increased level of anxiety.
3. You’re in denial about your loved one’s condition.
4. You’re experiencing depression.
5. You’re exhausted and struggle to keep up with other responsibilities.
6. You’re starting to experience health problems yourself.
7. You’re having trouble concentrating and becoming forgetful.
8. You find yourself irritable and moody.
9. You’re having trouble sleeping.
10. You’re starting to withdraw socially from friends and activities you once enjoyed.
When you need a break, here are a few tips for you to consider:
Don’t assume that everyone knows how you feel or what all it takes to care for your loved one. Ask other family members or friends to step in, if only for a few hours each week so you can spend time away and participate in an enjoyable activity.
The choices are yours, but remember they can also be small. Read a book while taking a bath. Talk to a friend on the phone. Meet a friend for lunch or take a walk. Find ways to spend time outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine can lift your mood.
You may have an adult day center in your area or be able to contract with a home care company to provide a break for a regular number of hours a week. This solution allows you to plan ahead to run errands or just relax. And you’ll know your loved one is well taken care of.
Remind yourself that despite your best efforts, you can’t be everything to everybody. Most caregivers often feel as if they’re being pulled in several directions at once. Try your best to be there for others but let your family and friends know that you need them to be there for you as well.
After caregiving continuously, if at all possible, try to schedule an actual vacation or a weeklong trip to visit friends, other family members or just to go sit on the beach and recharge. Check into respite care programs at senior living communities in your area. You’ll find the type of care you can rely on as well as the accommodations, activities and amenities that your loved one can enjoy.
We understand both the gratification and difficulty in being a caregiver. And we’ve seen the adult child or spouse of a loved one whose own health has declined in order to keep constant attention.
But eventually, the caregiver must get a break or they won’t be able to care for their loved one and may instead need it for themselves.
We hope these caregiver tips will help. And if you are interested in respite care or are considering assisted living for your family member, we invite you to consider our Westminster at Lake Ridge Assisted Living community.
Our role is to support your loved one in living the best life possible. And we lend a helping hand whenever it’s needed. The homes, activities and amenities are tailored to meet the preferences of our residents. And the benefits don’t stop there.
Privacy, assistance whenever needed, delicious chef-prepared meals and scheduled transportation are among the advantages you’ll find. Your loved one will feel right at home in the spacious living suite with its own bathroom and large walk-in shower. And meeting and making new friends with our programs and social opportunities will occur easily.
If you would like more information about assisted living, please download our free resource, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living.
Please call (703) 420-7105 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.