Being a caregiver requires endless amounts of energy, empathy and patience. Caregiving is a time-consuming undertaking that can easily lead to burnout.
If you’re caring for a loved one, it’s important to be aware of the challenges caregivers face, so that you’re able to address them if you need to. Taking care of others means taking care of yourself.
Challenges caregivers face:
- Isolation – Caregivers can often feel cut off from the outside world. So much time and energy is spent caring for someone else, caregivers often don’t have time to take care of themselves. If you start to feel isolated, reach out to close friends and family to see if they are able to help. Consider a support group for caregivers dealing with similar problems. It’s important for your own health that you still have “me time,” and it will help you be a better caregiver as well.
- Stress – Taking care of a loved one and being responsible for their health can be very stressful. There are a lot of tasks to juggle, from managing medications to helping with getting dressed or bathing. If you’re feeling stressed, try to set aside little breaks throughout the day. Even 5-10 minutes every couple hours where you can practice relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises can help relieve some of your stress. Don’t forget that your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may also offer support in dealing with stress.
- Financial burden – Also another form of stress, the financial burden felt by caregivers should not be overlooked. Often if you are taking care of a loved one, you may be foregoing career or educational opportunities, which means you may be limiting your income. If you’re experiencing a financial burden as a caregiver, reach out to family and friends to see if they would be willing to help with your caregiving duties. You can also see if your loved one qualifies for disability.
Being aware of common issues caregivers face can help you be on the lookout for signs you are experiencing them as well. If you recognize early on that you are feeling isolated, stressed, or financially burdened, take action to get help. It’s easy for caregivers to overlook their own wellbeing, but taking care of yourself will not only help you, it will help the one you care for as well.