2 Things You Need To Know As a Family Caregiver
As our parents age, you might feel like spending more time with them. After all, they took the time to raise you, teach you how to tie your shoes, pack lunches for school, support your dreams, celebrate in your achievements and guide us through your defeats. And while not everyone’s upbringing was ‘sunshine and rainbows’, it can be hard to watch our parents struggle with age or health-related challenges. So many of us want to return the favor.
When grown children start spending more time with Mom or Dad, it might kick off with short weekly visits, but quickly turns into hours a day providing care. Your work, kids, spouse, and health can start to suffer as a result–and that’s the last thing you want to happen as a family caregiver. While it can be fulfilling and comforting knowing you can take care of your senior parents, it can be stressful as well.
Almost 44 million Americans take care of an aging loved one. About 50% of these people provide medical or nursing care, of which half believe they don’t have a choice in the matter. While many of them are grown children supporting a parent, a good percentage are also seniors who are caring for their spouse.
The value of this unpaid labor force is estimated to be at least $306 billion annually, nearly double the combined costs of home health care ($43 billion) and nursing home care ($115 billion).
It’s Okay to Talk About It
A report shows that an estimate of 20% of family caregivers suffer from depression, which is twice the rate of the general population.
Many people tend to bottle things up when they feel overwhelmed. It’s perfectly normal, but isn’t very healthy. Stress can build and negatively affect us physically and mentally. Check out our blog here to learn more about Caregiver Burnout symptoms and prevention tips.
Stories for Caregivers launched a platform for family caregivers, encouraging them to document and submit their experiences, raising awareness of the hardships faced by relatives and friends who care for their loved ones. Family caregivers selflessly support their loved ones for no pay and no recognition, and they deserve a break.
Whether you confide in someone you trust or decide to speak about it anonymously, try to be open about how you’re feeling, and be honest with yourself if you’re struggling.
It’s Okay to Ask For Help
While it’s important to support your loved ones, you don’t need to make it your full-time job. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you feel stressed, tense or tired. Think about setting up respite care. This means having someone else come in for a short-term contract and take the tough stuff off your hands. You’ll finally be able to take a breath, relax, and have some time for yourself and your needs.
Balancing life responsibilities can be overwhelming sometimes, just know that you are not alone. There are resources such as home care companies that offer respite care or support groups.
Organizations like Nurse Next Door provide respite care for family caregivers who need a few weeks or months to catch up on their own lives. Many people keep visiting their senior loved ones during this time and find that the visits are much more relaxed and positive because the responsibility has been lifted. Hiring a professional caregiver or nurse doesn’t mean you aren’t a great caregiver or that you don’t care about Mom or Dad. While you might want to take care of them, you shouldn’t have to.
When Cathy Thorpe joined Nurse Next Door as its CEO and President in 2014, she already knew the home care company from being a customer five years earlier. She had needed support when caring for her mother, who was recovering from surgery. Listen to Cathy talk about her personal experience as a daughter and family caregiver:
Nurse Next Door lets daughters be daughters. To learn more about our caregiver relief services, call us toll free +1(877) 588-8609 and let us support you today.