THE “AVERAGE” FAMILY CAREGIVER
Roughly 75% of all caregivers are women, with an average age of 49, and many of whom are caring for their own children at the same time as taking care of a senior. About 60% of caregivers also work outside the home on top of their caregiving responsibilities.
Managing all of this can be very overwhelming if you’re not careful as caregiving alone often requires round-the-clock care. Many unpaid caregivers (40%-70%) report clinically significant signs of depression.
THE HIGH DEMAND OF CAREGIVING
From managing medications, assisting with bathing/ grooming, feeding, transportation, cleaning, and managing finances, caregiving is a 24/7 job. According to reports, caregiving can range anywhere from 14.8 hours a week, to 34.5 hours a week.
Providing care for a loved one can often crowd one’s life if not careful. In fact, studies have found that after caregiving, many family members report having worse health both physically and mentally– which is why it’s so crucial for caregivers to take care of themselves, too.
EXERCISING GOOD HEALTH
About 63% of caregivers report they eat poorly, so they are especially encouraged to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet and to get sufficient exercise. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you have a schedule that can change at the drop of a dime. To help, try meal planning ahead of time, or even doubling your recipes and freezing them to eat later. Also, try scheduling in some physical activity every day and be consistent with it.
TAKING “ME” TIME
It’s also important to get adequate sleep and take some time to yourself to recuperate. Family members should not feel guilty for taking some time off. In fact, it’s very healthy to take a break. Ask someone to sit with your loved one for a couple of hours so you can clear your mind and relieve some stress you may be feeling. If you have other family members who are capable of caregiving that live near you, try rotating shifts with them.
The financial burdens of caregiving can also negatively affect family members. In 2009, nearly half of all caregivers reported having an increase in expenses due to caregiving that required them to use up all, or most, of their savings.
Issues over money are always a sore spot. Try discussing early on with all family members and the care recipient how expenses will be handled. If necessary, ask family members to help contribute.
Sometimes caregiving leaves you feeling alone or isolated from the rest of the world. Remember to reach out to friends, family, and support groups for help. Whether it’s lunch with a friend or going to a sporting event with your colleagues, social activity is key to maintaining good mental health and positivity.
While what you’re doing as a caregiver can be burdensome, there are many aspects that can be very rewarding and fulfilling. The sacrifice of your time is a true indicator of your love and value you hold for your senior. Spending time together (no matter the task at hand), can strengthen your relationship and help you get to know each other better. Try utilizing this time well by asking questions about their past, comparing your hobbies and interests, and playing games together. You’ll never regret these activities, but you may regret not doing them.
We realize that providing personal care to your loved one is not meant for everyone. Aegis is there to help. With our home health and hospice care options, we provide the care your loved one needs to help them (and you) have a comfortable and happy life. Let our professional staff help relieve some of your caregiving burdens today. Contact us by calling 480-219-4790 today! Happy Family Caregivers Month!