In the United States, roughly 40 million unpaid caregivers assist adults 65 and over, according to the Pew Research Center. Oftentimes, the recipients of this care are relatives. If you’re a family caregiver, there are some potential problems you may face at one time or another. Today, we’re going to discuss eight of these common challenges and offer solutions for them.
Depression is one of the most common problems for family caregivers, according to the National Family Caregivers Association. While it’s understandable to feel as if you’re grieving a little bit each time you notice physical or mental changes in your senior loved one, it’s important to make an effort to focus on the unique qualities still evident every time you interact with him or her. If you’re having difficulty doing this, talk to your doctor about resources and management methods.
2. Stress and Anxiety
Some degree of stress and anxiety is to be expected, especially if your regular duties vary from one day to the next. Possible solutions to help you address your stress and anxiety include:
• Getting help from other family members when you’re extremely stressed out
• Taking time for yourself so you can recharge and regain your focus
• Having a trusted friend or family member to talk to
- Seeing a counselor or therapist
- Joining a caregiver support group
3. Time Management
It can be difficult to find a good balance between caregiving and other personal and professional obligations. Opting for in-home care provided by trained, compassionate individuals during certain hours of the day is one way to manage your time better without feeling guilty or sacrificing the quality of care your loved one deserves.
A professional home caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for you and your family. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality senior home care, Portland Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.
4. Sleep Deprivation
The constant worry that you may get a phone call at any hour of the day from a loved one who needs care can make it difficult to sleep soundly. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and contribute to reduced alertness and other issues that can make you a less effective caregiver. You may be able to minimize your worry by encouraging your loved one to use a personal emergency response system so you can sleep well knowing he or she has instant access to urgently needed help.
5. Financial Strain
Many family caregivers do what they do out of love and a sense of obligation. But if being a family caregiver takes you away from your paying job, you may eventually become financially strained. In-home care is one way to ease this burden, since it can be provided during times when you have work-related responsibilities.
6. Social Isolation
Some family caregivers reach a point where their primary social interaction is with their older loved ones. While this is certainly time that should be cherished, it’s equally important for caregivers to find time to interact with their peers and other family members, which may mean setting reasonable boundaries, joining a support group, and explaining to your loved one that you need time to do things you enjoy on your own time.
Many caregivers are unwilling to ask for help. However, attempting to do everything yourself can lead to exhaustion and complete burnout. Realize it’s not a sign of weakness to know when to ask for help or explore options with in-home care or elderly day care services.
Family caregivers need to care for their own wellbeing. If you’re caring for an aging loved one and are feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide respite care. Portland families who want to prevent burnout can turn to Home Care Assistance. One of our professional caregivers can assist your loved one at home while you take a nap, go to work, run errands, or go on vacation.
8. Poor Health
In a survey conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), 22 percent of respondents said their health had gotten worse as a result of being a caregiver. You’re not going to do yourself or your loved one any favors if you ignore your own health needs. For this reason, family caregivers are advised to:
• Get regular physical and mental health exams
• Report new or unusual symptoms to their doctors instead of dismissing them
• Ask for help with more physically demanding tasks or use assistive devices such as stair-climbing wheelchairs
Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (207) 835-4849.