When you were growing up, it was unimaginable that your parents would ever need your help. They were always busy taking care of you, and seemingly overnight, you find yourself overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of them. The shift in mentality on top of the emotional drain can be staggering. Before you beat yourself down for feeling frustrated, remember you are not alone, and many families face similar challenges. Find out the most common issues a family caregiver experiences, and find a solution that works for everyone.
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Are You A Family Caregiver?
As an informal caregiver, you may be responsible for physical, emotional, and financial tasks for your partner, spouse, older family members, or close friends. You will be in charge due to illness, injury, or disability.
Most families don’t have a formal discussion on caregiver responsibility. The decision happens slowly over time. One minute you are helping your parents with errands, the next, you have become fully immersed in their schedule. This lack of communication upfront coupled with the progression of required care creates an environment where many family caregivers struggle to ask for help. They haven’t clearly identified the boundaries around their responsibilities and capabilities.
Family Caregivers’ Common Issues
Family Caregiver & Social Isolation
When your schedule becomes dictated by another person’s medication routine and doctor’s appointments, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for your interests. A family caregiver may find themselves unintentionally isolated, caught in a mundane routine that leads to depression and, in severe cases, paranoia.
Family Caregiver & Financial Strain
Even if you have created a budget for your lifestyle, the unexpected costs and increase in transportation or medical supplies can put everyone’s bank account out of balance. Even worse, taking care of your aging relatives takes you away from your paid employment. It forces a family caregiver to make tough decisions. This financial strain can also fester, leading to resentment.
Family Caregiver & Emotional Exhaustion
While you are becoming the primary caregiver for your older family member(s), this also means you are watching them decline before your eyes. While you focus on them and keep them comfortable, you lose sight of processing your feelings. Combined with isolation, symptoms of emotional exhaustion can include trouble sleeping, developing chronic pain, increase in stress, fluctuating weight, and depression.
Family Caregiver & Physical Health Decline
Under the emotional duress of managing your relative’s schedule, it’s easy to stop taking care of your physical health. You might not have time in the morning for a workout or start eating more fast-food based on availability. The danger with this means you aren’t in any shape to take care of anyone. In 2014, a European study found a link between the declining health of family caregivers and their increasingly early mortality.
Family Caregiver & Time Management
In the blink of an eye, your calendar belongs to someone else’s life, and you find it a struggle to fit in simple errands like grocery shopping. One main conflict when you are the primary caregiver is that you also cherish your time together. If your family member is diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimers, any lucid moments or chance to connect feels like a rare jewel.
Family Caregiver & Asking For Help
One of the most challenging issues family caregivers face is simply asking for help. After realizing you are overwhelmed, a family caregiver will experience shame with asking for help. There is a stigma of failure attached and the belief that you have let down your family.
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Easy Solutions For Caregivers
All of the issues listed above can lead to caregiver guilt and resentment. Harboring these dark feelings can ruin the experience and time with your relatives. By taking care of yourself, you will give your aging relatives the best experience possible.
Instead of feeling judged by someone you love or speaking to friends, find a local support group. The focus here is meeting other family caregivers and having a safe space to express your frustrations. Another bonus will be meeting people who have come farther on the journey. They will be able to share tips and tricks that you haven’t encountered. Developing this connection and lifeline can prove to be an invaluable resource.
Schedule Time For Yourself
While you are busy dedicating your time to someone else, you have forgotten to take time for your needs. Choose one day or one hour and do the things you have missed. This includes meeting a friend for lunch, having coffee at a cafe, taking a long bath, or even a nap! One hour can make you feel completely rejuvenated. After you do it once and realize it’s ok, you’ll find it easier to schedule more time for yourself in the future.
Financial Aid Is Available
The financial burden is a specific point of tension in your mind. Depending on your state, financial aid could be available. Find out what state or local resources are available, or bring it up with other relatives to see if collectively you can manage expectations and create a new budget.
The 12 Oaks Approach
One important aspect of becoming a full-time caregiver you may not expect is the breadth of things that need to be considered. You are not used to thinking of your aging relative as someone who may need help with their diverse physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care. The team at 12 Oaks has educated professionals in this field who are thrilled to spend their time with your family.
We stay up to date on all new geriatric developments and provide a unique and specialized memory care approach. Consider the support and the elevated lifestyle we can provide for your relatives in our communities.
If you have questions about issues with family caregivers or any conditions discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while still leading fulfilling lives. There’s no better place to enjoy the encore season of life than at a 12 Oaks community. For questions or to schedule a visit, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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