One of the most difficult aspects of taking care of an aging loved one is knowing that no matter how hard you try their condition is going to get worse. Feelings of guilt, anger and frustration are common, all of which can exacerbate caregiver stress. Staying positive while caring for an elderly adult requires adjusting caregiving expectations as their health continues to decline. Using these tips should make the process go more smoothly.
Informal Caregiver Statistics Tell the Story
- In a typical year, over 60 million adult Americans provide care to a chronically ill, disabled or aging family member or friend.
- The average informal caregiver spends 20+ hours per week caring for a loved one.
- Roughly two-thirds of all family caregivers are women.
- Most informal caregivers are married and hold down at least a part-time job.
- Approximately 13% of all caregivers provide care for 40+ hours every week.
Although being a caregiver is highly rewarding, it can also be a thankless and emotionally draining job. For most, watching a loved one’s health deteriorate right before their eyes is a very frustrating and helpless feeling.
How to Adjust Caregiving Expectations
Setting more realistic expectations as a caregiver will improve the quality of life for both you and your care recipient. Here’s how:
Understand what you’re up against
Whether it’s cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease or another health condition, learn as much as you can about it. Research the stages of progression, along with the symptoms that go with each stage. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.
Speak to your loved one’s doctor about what to expect and join a caregiver support group with members who are also taking care of someone with the same disease or illness.
Set realistic goals
Based on what you’ve learned, establish new goals that realistically reflect what you can and cannot do. If your loved one doesn’t show an interest in an activity that you have planned, don’t take it personally. They are experiencing various emotions too, especially if their condition is causing them a lot of pain and anxiety.
You’re only human, so concentrate on assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs) that will make your loved one more comfortable without burning you out.
It’s okay to say “no”
Saying “no” can be even harder when you’re a caregiver. However, there