Did you know 1 in 5 Americans are caregivers, according to a report conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP? This means that an estimated 53 million adults provide care for someone – which is up from the estimated 43.5 million caregivers in 2015. Of this 53 million, 41.8 million are estimated to serve those who are 50+.
If you’re among these ranks, serving as a family caregiver to an older adult at home, you may find yourself struggling with some intense emotions. From worry and sadness to feeling stressed and overwhelmed, caregiving is not an easy job.
No matter how fulfilling it may be to care for your loved one during the aging process, you may still be impacted by negative emotions sometimes associated with caregiving. These feelings don’t mean you’re doing anything wrong; in fact, caregiving is one of the most selfless things you can do – which is part of what makes it so difficult. As these feelings and challenges add up, they can cause an increase in stress and ultimately impact a caregiver’s overall health and well-being.
Causes of Caregiver Stress When Caring for a Loved One at Home
Transitioning from family member to informal caregiver.
Caregiving can make you feel like you’re losing your past relationship with your loved one. Instead of simply visiting and enjoying your loved one’s company, now you may be:
- Spending all your time taking care of their needs
- Researching their illness
- Finding ways to enhance their quality of life
- Figuring out how to provide the best possible care
- Ensuring they have everything they need to be comfortable
- Managing their daily tasks and to-do list
Managing all these daily tasks can cause emotional distress and frustration, especially if the demands of caregiving are new to you. It’s also possible that you may find yourself feeling guilty for feeling this way – this is when it’s good to reach out for support.
Long hours with little to no breaks.
Caregiving is demanding. Whether it’s your full-time job or you’re working full time while also providing care, you may experience:
- A lack of time for yourself, your family, and your friends
- Inability to sleep or lower quality sleep
- An increase in mental health conditions like anxiety and depression
- Irritability when there are unexpected changes to your routine or your loved one’s health
- Exhaustion and burnout
- Fear of what the future may bring
All these factors can cause increased stress and frustration, especially if you aren’t able to make time for yourself or if you lack support.
Trouble keeping up with daily tasks and caring for family.
Many caregivers don’t just have the stress of taking care of their loved one to worry about. Some have their own homes, children, and pets to care for – and caregiving for a loved one on top of those responsibilities makes it even more difficult.
Without help, you run the risk of burning out, which is not good for you, your family, or the loved one you’re caring for. If possible:
- Rely on a spouse, significant other or older children to help more
- See if family or a friend can spend some time with your loved one so you can catch up around your house
- Allow others to help care for your loved one so you can spend more time with your family
- Delegate tasks of caregiving to others willing to lend a hand
- Begin a chore calendar for household family members
Caregiving is taking a physical toll.
Being a caregiver doesn’t just affect you emotionally, but physically, too. Caregiving can create potential health problems caused by:
- Lack of time or ability to prepare and eat a healthy meal
- Unhealthy habits, like lack of physical activity
- Inability to visit your healthcare practitioner regularly
- Not seeking medical advice for mental health problems
- Untreated conditions, like heart disease
It’s important to keep up with your health so you can be the healthiest version of you – and ultimately take the best care of your loved one.
When caring for a loved one at home becomes too challenging, it may be time to seek outside help. Some find this with home care services, respite care or adult day care programs, while others consider moving their loved one to a senior living community offering a comprehensive network of support.
Both options can give the primary caregiver a reprieve, but many find that the support provided from a leading senior living community like Waterstone on High Ridge is the right choice for them and their loved one. In fact, many who choose to move their loved one to senior living wish they had done so a long time ago because of its benefits.
With dedicated support on site, engaging activities, and nutritious prepared meals, senior living can help bring balance back to your life.
Discover freedom from caregiving’s stressors with Waterstone.
At Waterstone on High Ridge, our team can help you find the perfect community to fit the needs of your loved one. Featuring various levels of care – including independent living, assisted living and memory care by Bridges® , families enjoy peace of mind knowing their loved ones have access to the support they need when they need it.