As we all grow older, we may need help with care. Help may include simple tasks around the house or assistance with personal care. Caregivers may step in to help with many of these tasks. Many times spouses or children become caregivers. It also may be the role of family members or friends to become a caregiver for an elderly adult or an adult who has unmet needs.
In April of 2019, AARP and the National Center on Care Giving reported that 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. Caregiving tasks include a host of chores which include household maintenance to assistance with washing and bathing. Caregivers often take on the role of managing finances and making major health decisions for the person they are caring for.
The average age of the caregiver is 49 years old. These individuals often have children of their own and are continuing to be a part of the workforce. This only adds to the stress of all their caregiving tasks.
In the role of a caregiver, it is easy to spend all of your time taking care of another person’s needs and neglecting your own needs. This will lead to caregiver stress and burnout. Caregivers can start to:
· Feel irritable
· Feel like they are not appreciated
· Become depressed and isolate themselves
· Have decreased energy and complain about fatigue
· Start to become ill more frequently
· Lose the ability to concentrate which can cause loss of work if the caregiver is still working
Let’s face it – everyone needs a break. No matter where you work – you are given a rest period. If you are a caregiver, at home with someone 24 hours a day or a part-time caregiver with other responsibilities, you may not give yourself a break. If this is the case, you may experience caregiver stress and burnout. The stress caregivers experience can be emotional, mental or physical stress.
It is important to check in with your doctor if you start to feel stress. Your doctor can first recommend the first steps in the right direction and ensure there is nothing medically happening that you are ignoring. This is an important first step.
It is always important to ask for help. Many people feel like they are defeated if they ask for help. However, this is SO not true! Never be ashamed to ask for help. If you don’t have a friend or family member who you can ask for help, contact your local area agency on aging, AAA, and see if they can help you to identify services to assist you in caregiving needs for your loved one.
Think about things which will help relieve stress and burnout. These things are different for everyone. You must find something which works for you. It may be a walk, reading a book, a hot bath or a cup of tea. Many people find relief from caregiver stress by talking in support groups. You have to do what works for you and take care of you so that you can take care of others!
If you need assistance with referral to services please contact Aging Care Partners of Jewish Home of Eastern PA; Nicole Lipinski 570-344-6177 ext 1113 firstname.lastname@example.org