Most informal caregivers are very supportive and generous people, and caring for an aging in place elderly relative can be highly rewarding. But most family caregivers also hold down at least a part-time job and manage a household while juggling their caregiving responsibilities. As a result, it’s not uncommon for them to feel exhausted and stressed out, which can eventually place a strain on relationships at work and home. If you’re in this situation, getting support as a family caregiver is vitally important for your continued health and wellbeing.
Daily Struggles Family Caregivers Face
According to the American Psychological Association, these are some of the daily struggles that the average family caregiver has to face:
- Physical. Injuries, fatigue, trouble sleeping, risk of illness, shortage of time
- Mental. Depression, anxiety, stress, guilt, sadness, worry, resentment
- Financial. Trouble in the workplace, out-of-pocket caregiving expenses, etc.
- Relational. Spouse, partner, siblings, children
If these problems persist, it can lead to caregiver fatigue and even caregiver burnout– which then places the health and wellbeing of both the caregiver and care recipient at risk.
Getting the Support You Need
To help ensure that you and your aging loved one both enjoy a higher quality of life, here are some reliable ways to get the support that’s needed as a family caregiver:
Lifting a bedbound senior can cause serious injuries, and caregiver fatigue leads to illnesses and longer healing times. For starters, support your physical health by getting plenty of sleep, eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. Use a patient lift to help get your loved one in and out of bed, and find them a wheelchair or walker to help transport them around.
Holding in negative feelings opens the door to anxiety and depression. Find healthy ways to express those feelings and get emotional support through friends, clergy members, a caregiver support group, relatives or a licensed therapist or counselor. Take a few days off every month to go on a weekend getaway with your spouse or partner, and try pampering yourself with a spa day every once in a while.
The average caregiver spends a lot of their own money on caregiving-related expenses, from food to medical supplies and home modifications. That can quickly put a strain on your household budget and elevate your stress levels. Some potential sources of financial support might be your place of worship, siblings or the local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). ADRC offices can be found through the government’s Eldercare Locator website.
If you’ve been catching flak from your boss because caregiving duties are disrupting your job responsibilities, sit down with them and explain the situation. Most supervisors will understand, and yours may even be in the same situation. Consult your company’s employee handbook to see if you’re eligible to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Other options