The Physical and Emotional Demands of CaregivingApril 19, 2023
Caregiving requires a great deal of physical and emotional strength. Taking on the role of caregiver for an elderly loved one is challenging in all senses of the word, as it forces you to make a major life change. The physical and emotional demands of caregiving can even lead to burnout, if not properly managed.
Signs of burnout can include feeling tired and irritable, feeling overwhelmed, and having difficulty concentrating. If these symptoms occur, it may be time to take a break and seek additional support. However, recognizing what can cause these physical and emotional strains may help you alleviate your stressors sooner.
The physical demands
Tasks that keep your loved one comfortable at home, such as light housekeeping and cooking, are usually not a problem for most family caregivers. However, when caring for a senior with physical limitations, the demands of the job are more intense. Personal care—which includes activities such as bathing, dressing, and toileting—may require the caregiver to lift or carry their loved one. This can take a toll on the caregiver’s body.
It is crucial to maintain your physical health so you can provide your loved one the best care possible. Physical health isn’t just about being physically strong. It’s about eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep as well. It is crucial that you carve away time in your day to tend to your needs, as you can’t provide proper care if you aren’t caring for yourself.
The emotional demands
Caregiving is just as, if not more, emotionally challenging. Caregivers may be overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious about their loved one’s well-being. Undergoing a relationship role reversal—such as a child now providing care for their parent—can be a confusing, disorienting time for some. Considering stepping away to take time for oneself often leads to unwarranted feelings of guilt.
With all their new responsibilities, life changes, and distance from friends and families, it is common for caregivers to feel alone. This, in particular, can have serious implications on one’s health, as it can lead to depression and even certain health concerns.
It is important for caregivers to take care of their own emotional well-being in order to be able to provide the best care for their loved ones. Possibly the best way to do so is to seek support from family members, friends, or support groups. If feelings worsen, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional.
Stress-reduction techniques—such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga— are easy ways to calm the mind and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Try to incorporate some of these techniques into your everyday life. Even 10 minutes will have an impact.
When is it time for me to hire a caregiver?
Making the decision to hire a caregiver is a personal choice. It doesn’t look the same for every family and what finally leads you to a decision is sure to differ. However, there are often a few commonalities that lead family caregivers to hire the help of a professional.
- You have a full-time job. Caring for a loved one is difficult enough as is. When you have to juggle caring for an elderly loved one with a career, it’s twice as hard. An at-home caregiver can allow you to work your job without worrying about whether or not your loved one’s needs are being managed.
- You have young children. Caring for young children and seniors simultaneously can feel practically impossible. Your caregiver can help you divide your time with more ease.
- You are often overwhelmed. Between the dozens of responsibilities that come with caring for a loved one, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. A caregiver can help share that load by assisting with some of these tasks.
Caregiving does not, and should not be, something you manage on your own. Developing a support system and working with a caregiving agency will make the process so much easier.
Hire the help of an at-home caregiver
Home Care Powered by AUAF has been a trusted provider of home care services for 30 years. Our trained, professional staff provides assistance with activities such as medication reminders, errands, personal care, and so much more. Calling upon the aid of one of our staff members will provide you with the physical and emotional support you need to offer your loved one proper care.
In addition to helping you hire a caregiver, we are also a part of the IDoA’s Community Care program. Through this initiative, we are able to offer family caregivers the training they need to receive compensation for the work they already do. To learn more about this program, or to hire a caregiver, give us a call at 773-274-9262. We would be happy to help you through either progress.
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