Finding a balance when you’re a caregiver can be daunting, and this is especially true when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. If caregiver stress is not addressed, it can take a tremendous toll on your physical and mental health, self-esteem, relationships, emotions and mood, and overall well-being. When you’re burned out, you can’t take care of yourself properly, let alone anyone else. That’s why it is so important to take care of yourself, which means finding a balance between your needs and your loved one’s needs.
In this article we will cover:
- Caregiver Stress Statistics
- Having No Choice When Taking on Caregiver Role
- You Are Not Alone As A Caregiver
- Good ways to find balance in your life
- Plan! Plan! Plan!
- Lean on Your “Squad”
- Finding Balance – Ask for Help NOW
- Seek Respite Care
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Caregiver Stress Statistics
Being a caregiver can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be draining and stressful. A study showed that approximately six in ten caregivers were also employed while caregiving. In fact, 56% among that study group worked full time and at least 34.7 hours per week.
The emotional, mental, and physical impact as a result of not having balance as a caregiver is why caregiver stress statistics are so important. Did you know:
- 1/3 caregivers feel depressed
- Caregivers have higher mortality rates
- Women caregivers taking care of family members are 2.5 more times likely to live in poverty (compared to non-caregivers)
- 47% of working caregivers had to use all or most of their savings
Having No Choice When Taking on Caregiver Role
Many caregivers feel that they had no choice in regards to taking on the caregiving role. These individuals are more likely to report having increased strain and stress as a result of these new, complex care situations. Consider the following caregiver stress statistics for those who felt like they had no choice:
- They find it more difficult to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
- Difficulty in coordinating care
- Finds it challenging attaining affordable services for the receiver
- Increased likelihood of having poor or fair health
- Believes caregiving made their health worse
You Are Not Alone As A Caregiver
While the caregiving role can be overwhelming for those who have no choice and even for those who volunteer, there are steps you can take to create balance in your life. Understand and know that you aren’t alone.
Most, if not all, caregivers experience frustration, anxiety, sadness, and stress at some point. The key to combating these distressing feelings is finding a balance. More specifically, making time for yourself, as well as the older adult. A well-rested caregiver, along with help from a home health aide, can make your life a whole lot easier.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to relieve caregiver stress and recapture the hope, happiness, and joy you once felt.
Good ways to find balance in your life:
Plan! Plan! Plan!
Finding balance in your life is a lot harder than it sounds, but it’s possible if you plan. It is normal to have concerns when it comes to your loved one, especially, if he/she is highly dependent on you. It can become difficult to manage your affairs and the affairs of an older adult, which is why many people experience burnout.
In addition, several caregivers are a part of the sandwich generation, which means they are responsible for taking care of both their children and their parents. Your personal responsibilities may include:
- Your spouse
- And the list goes on and on!
While many people find it challenging just balancing their personal life, those who are also caregivers have many more responsibilities. In addition to the duties above, you may also be responsible for:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Monitoring mental health issues/changes
- Organizing and giving medication
- And other norming aging issues
The good news is there are easy fixes to your woes such as a daily planner and journal. A planner and journal can help you navigate the caregiving world while keeping a firm grasp on your own. So, purchase a daily planner and journal and write down everything.
Lean on Your “Squad”
The next way of finding balance in your life is to lean on your “squad.” Everyone needs a “squad,” right? Of course! Well, when you are the primary caregiver, you need a group of friends or family members that you can lean on.
Truthfully, you are probably emotionally and physically spent, which is why it’s so important to surround yourself with people, who can lift your spirit, make you laugh and help you with tasks. Check-in with your friends and family from time-to-time, go for a quick lunch with them, and call them regularly.
Finding Balance – Ask for Help NOW
There is no shame in asking for help NOW. It’s important to understand that you simply can’t do it all – all of the time. If you have a long to-do list, don’t panic – just ask for help NOW – not when the stress becomes too heavy to bear alone. If you need help taking the older adult to a doctor’s appointment, housecleaning, and/or cooking dinner for your family, turn to your friends, family or find a support group in your local area.
Seek Respite Care
So, you have a lot going on in your life right now and you’re almost at your breaking point, what do you do? As mentioned above, the key is finding balance in your life. How? Well, first by acknowledging that you are doing everything you possibly can for your loved one. Pat yourself on the back, because you deserve it. It is more difficult when you are taking care someone with dementia, so please make a favor to yourself and get a rest.
However, you still need a break from time-to-time – for your own health and well-being. It doesn’t make you a negligent caregiver; rather, it makes you an excellent one. How? Well, when you take a respite, allowing trained home health aides to assist, you return to your loved one with the three “R’s”:
So, hire a home health aide to care for your loved, and take a respite. In other words, schedule a mini-vacation once a month – you owe it to yourself and your loved one!
Helpguide.org. (2017). Caregiver stress and burnout. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/caregiver-stress-and-burnout.htm
Samaha, G. M. (2017). 10 secrets of a well-balanced caregiver. Agingcare.com. Retrieved from https://www.agingcare.com/articles/family-caregiver-life-balance-137419.htm
Wegerer, J. (2014). How to balance your life as an Alzheimer’s caregiver. Alzheimers.net. Retrieved from http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-05-22/balance-life-as-caregiver/
AARP – (2015) Caregiving in the USA
Caring.com ( 2016) What are the statistics of caregiver stress?