Those who act as caregivers for a loved one have already chosen a path where they are willing to sacrifice in order to provide care for another.
It’s one of the most important things a person can do.
Understanding the Needs of Caregivers
Even so, there are challenges. Caregivers often experience stress, which is why Hope Grows offers a respite for caregivers and a chance to recharge their battery. It also offers a supportive circle of people who understand the needs of a caregiver.
If you know a caregiver, it’s important to understand what they are going through and how you might be able to help. The following represents five of the biggest challenges caregivers face. These issues can even undermine what they are trying to achieve as a caregiver.
Combined, they can lead to the emotional and physical stress that many caregivers report experiencing.
The need for sleep is often undervalued by society in general. But it can become a very big issue for a caregiver. The constant work of providing care around the clock as well as spending time on their own lives can mean getting up early, going to bed late and sometimes having to get up in the middle of the night. Getting the proper amount of sleep leads to more energy, a better mood and can also help lessen aches and pains.
Going It Alone
Caregivers, by their very nature, are strong and independent. But, they often feel they must shoulder the burden of taking care of their loved one completely on their own. They are not quick to ask for help, even when they desperately need it. There are things you can do to help a caregiver. These include offering to give them a few hours on their own by watching the care recipient for them. It can even mean offering to do one of the many chores they must deal with (laundry, food preparation, yard work, etc.). Caregivers should be encouraged to reach out to others – it takes a team to provide quality care.
Many caregivers have trouble balancing their own lives and providing care. This often leads them to make sacrifices in their own lives. More than half of caregivers surveyed by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association of Retired Persons said they have sacrificed time spent on hobbies and even vacations to manage their caregiving duties. Asking for and accepting help can often manage this issue. Making a commitment to not put family vacations on indefinite hold also is a good move. It leads caregivers to make it a priority to handle both their caregiving duties and find time for themselves.
Lack of Privacy
Moving a care recipient into their home, can radically upset the typical household routine. A grown child caring for an elderly parent and a family of their own is just one example. Caregivers may find that the moments of privacy everyone needs are no longer available for them, much less the personal space they used to enjoy. Ways to handle this issue include providing a designated space for the care recipient, including a separate television, chair and desk. This provides them a space of their own and leaves the caregiver with the personal space they used to have, at least in small doses.
The average caregiver spends about $5,500 every year on caregiving duties, according to a survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving. The money goes to many different areas: food, travel, medications and co-payments at doctor visits, among others. This amount of out-of-pocket expense can lead to a lot of stress trying to keep financially above water. Those who can offer help with finances should consider doing so. Even occasionally buying groceries or mowing the lawn for free can provide a big boost.
These represent just some of the challenges caregivers face. Knowing these issues and coming up with possible ways to help can provide a big boost to the caregiver in your life.