Avoiding the Pitfalls Of Caregiving
Becoming a caregiver to a loved one is a role that will affect every part of your life. Whether you happily volunteered or felt obligated to step up. Whether you’ll be helping part-time or full-time. And whether your loved one is moving in with you or is determined to stay in their own home as long as possible.
Whatever your family’s circumstances, knowing some of the challenges ahead can help you avoid common pitfalls of caregiving and overcome some of the apprehension you may be feeling right now.
Common Caregiver Challenges
While caring for a loved one can be deeply rewarding, new caregivers face a variety of challenges that can lead to exhaustion or burnout if they’re not addressed from the start. These include:
Time management — Caregiving can add a lot of time-consuming tasks (shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, transportation, bill-paying, personal care, etc.) to an already busy life. This is especially true if you’re still working fulltime, or are raising children of your own in addition to caring for your senior parent. There’s only so much time in a day, and it can be difficult to juggle your schedule to fit in everything that needs to be done.
Emotional stress — Guilt, depression, anxiety, sadness, worry, resentment: caregiving can bring a whole range of strong emotions to the surface. These feelings don’t make you a bad person, but they are red flags that you need to find healthy coping methods for. And be aware that caring for someone with a chronic condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is even more likely to cause emotional stress.
Physical demands — Caregiving adds more physical tasks to your day, and can be hard on your body if your duties include helping your loved one into a bed, chair, or car on a regular basis. Stress or worry can lead to sleep deprivation, which affects your physical (and mental) performance. Some 22% of caregivers report that their own health has suffered as a result of caring for their loved one.
Financial strain — If you’re still working, it can be difficult to balance your work schedule around your caregiving duties. Many employees don’t have the option to take family leave to care for an elderly parent, and those who do generally, don’t receive pay. The longer the caregiving goes on, the greater the financial stress.
Less personal freedom — Taking on the care of a loved one means giving up a lot of your own personal time and freedom. Not only is it harder to travel or take time off, finding even small moments of “me time” during the day can be a challenge. If your loved one has moved into your home, you may be bothered by a lack of privacy, or feel overwhelmed by constant interactions.
Finding Your Balance
Too many family caregivers pay the price for their devotion with their own physical, mental and emotional health. It’s important to find ways to manage the stresses that come with the responsibility of caregiving, so you can maintain a sense of balance and personal well-being.
Get caregiver support. There’s no need to go it alone! Find an online or in- person caregiver support group to join. Connecting with others in your same situation will help you feel less isolated, and give you a safe place to express your concerns and fears, get new ideas and advice, and feel supported when you have to make tough decisions. Hospitals and doctors’ offices often have information about local groups, or you can search online to find resources in your area.
Take care of yourself. The more your loved one relies on you, the more energy it takes to provide their care; and you can’t give what you don’t have. Investing in your own well-being helps you be a better caregiver to your loved one. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep. Find positive outlets for your stress such as yoga, prayer or meditation to keep your mind and spirit calm. Continue to be social, spending time with your friends and other family members. And plan to take regular caregiving breaks to recharge yourself — whether it’s a vacation away, a quick weekend trip, or just a single day to do something you enjoy.
Hearthstone Can Help
Placing your loved one in our locally owned and managed senior living communities in Beaverton can provide peace of mind for you as the caregiver.
When you need a caregiving break, Hearthstone of Beaverton offers respite care, with short stay options of two weeks or more. Your loved one will be safe and comfortable in our cozy, home-like setting — cared for by a full-time nurse and staff.
Our second Beaverton location, Hearthstone at Murrayhill, offers a full range of senior living options to fit your loved one’s needs. Independent, Assisted Living, and Memory Care services are all available depending on the level of care that may be needed.
Hearthstone Senior Living communities have a genuine heart for serving seniors and their families. We invite you to call or stop by for a visit to learn more about us.