Roles reverse; child becomes parent. If you are about to join the ranks of the more than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S., you must understand the job is so much more than a profound act of kindness. While there are myriad reasons people take on the role of caregiver, there are common considerations all caregivers face. To help alleviate the strain of caregiving and make it a rewarding experience for you and the loved one in your care, start by taking time to develop plans to address the following major areas.
If you are currently working, caregiving may impact your ability to work and your future earning potential, should you need to cut back in hours. You need to determine how this will affect your current situation as well as future financial health. Consider consulting a financial professional to discuss options. If you will be financially burdened by caregiving, you should look for options that may pay you for some of your caregiving time. You may also need to look at the finances of your loved-one to identify any gaps that may need to be addressed now or in the future.
Caring for an aging and/or ill loved-one can put a lot of strain on your body. Likely, your sleep schedule will be disrupted, you will be eating irregularly, or you may be lifting or moving someone with mobility issues. All of these factors combined can negatively affect your health and cause serious physical issues for you. Figure out how you can keep healthy while caring for your loved-one by developing your own wellness plan. In addition, talk with doctors and nurses about the medical needs of your loved-one and the proper procedures for delivering effective care to ensure you are providing the best care possible.
Caregiving can be quite stressful and offers a rollercoaster of emotions along the way. You need to be aware that sadness, resentment, and anxiety are a normal part of your job, and should be addressed before they spiral out of control and possibly harm you or the person in your care.
Find out if there are respite programs in your area that will provide a break from caregiving duties so you can refuel and attend to your personal needs. Reach out to family, friends, or community volunteers who could help alleviate some of your stress. Also, look for caregiver support groups at your local hospital, church, or senior center and reach out to others who are experiencing some of your same challenges.
Caregiving is a compassionate job, filled with rewards and strain. As you embark on this journey, don’t forget to celebrate the fact that you are able to give your loved-one the proper care they deserve from someone they know and love. You are providing your loved-one with dignified care and you would likely have it no other way.