Family caregiving: A case for taking a break
With life expectancy increasing and more older people preferring to live at home, most of us will fulfil the role of family caregiver at some point in our lives. On the one hand, caregiving is a rewarding job. On the other, it’s demanding and no one is equipped to do it alone. Which begs the question, who is caring for the caregiver?
Home care agency CareChamp weighs in on how caregivers can get the support they need, and make the process more positive for both parties.
What is family caregiving?
Family caregivers are relatives or friends who provide informal, unpaid care for a loved one who can no longer care for themselves. They typically wear many hats: healthcare provider, care manager, companion, etc. All this on top of working a full- or part-time job, which experts estimate to be true for 60% of family caregivers. It’s no wonder caregiver stress is so common.
Impacts of caregiving on relationships
It’s human nature to want relationships to stay the same. But when a grown-up child begins to look after a parent, the roles are reversed. The provider who was once strong is now vulnerable and needs help. This shift in the dynamics of the parent-child relationship can have a deep emotional impact for the family.
Impacts of caregiving on wellbeing
Research by Family Caregiver Alliance suggests that the demands of caregiving can place people who take on the role at risk for significant emotional and physical health problems. CareChamp warns to watch out for:
- changes in sleep patterns,
- rapid mood swings,
- becoming easily agitated or frustrated,
- feeling overwhelmed like you’re losing control,
- substance abuse, and
- losing interest in hobbies, friends, food, etc.
In addition, caregiving can trigger a rollercoaster of difficult emotions, including anxiety and anger about the additional responsibilities, followed by guilt for having such doubts and misgivings. CareChamp promotes seeing the emotion for what it is without judging it or attempting to change it.
Many caregivers hesitate to ask for help, either because they don’t want to be a “burden” or because they don’t want to admit they can’t do everything themselves. But when you don’t take a break you put your health at risk, affecting yourself and the person in your care.
Besides accepting help from family and friends, have you considered reaching out to a professional?
CareChamp offers relief services for when a caregiver needs a break or is unavailable. Whether it’s for just a few hours, a week, or an extended period; respite care is an integral part of the caregiving journey. Here’s why:
- After restoring your energy, you’ll feel more positive about your role, helping to make the process more enjoyable for everyone involved.
- Needing help with basic activities of daily living can be a source of embarrassment. Healthcare assistants have hands-on experience with helping the elderly bathe, dress, eat, etc. safely and with dignity.
- A change of routine can provide your loved one with much-needed change of pace and stimulation.
Going through a trusted home care agency like CareChamp, as well as getting a care assessment by an experienced registered nurse, will make it easier for you to find the right caregiver and hand over responsibility when you need help.