Tag Archives: caregiver stress

Common Caregiver Challenges

Taking on the position of caregiver can be a life altering role as you find yourself completely readjusting your priorities and reworking your schedule. While being a caregiver is ultimately extremely rewarding it is littered with numerous obstacles. Finding ways to balance your lifestyle and adjust to your “new normal” is not an easy feat, but if you recognize some of the universal obstacles caregivers face, you may be better able to grasp the position.

  • Time Management: Caregiving consumes a large portion of your time. Days seem to pass by in an instant, and you have less and less time to accomplish the tasks you once did on a daily basis pre-caregiving. Caregiving often decreases the amount of time you spend enjoying hobbies, going out with friends and going on vacation. With caregiving you quickly discover sporadic dinner plans and weekend getaways are a thing of the past. Everything you do has to be planned and pre-scheduled. While this may take a little more effort, planning “you” time is essential. Nothing helps you recharge like going out to eat with friends or going on a mini vacation. Scheduling time for yourself is essential for every caregiver.
  • Workplace Demands: While it is easy to schedule days you need to leave work early for children’s needs like soccer games or dance recitals, being a caregiver to the elderly does not afford you a set schedule. Emergencies arise and unexpected events may find you having to leave work early or come in late. The majority of caregivers say they need a workplace that is willing to accommodate their unpredictable schedule, but most caregivers are apprehensive about asking for more flexibility for fear they will get less preferential treatment.
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    Financial Stress: Being a caregiver is not only emotionally and physically demanding, it is very financially demanding as well. This is only exasperated by the fact that caregiving often cuts down on your work hours. The average caregiver spends approximately $5,500 per year out of pocket on caregiving. For those in the sandwich generation trying to save up for their own retirement and their children’s college tuition, this is a hefty sum. Long distance caregivers have an even higher financial burden with their out-of-pocket costs reaching an estimated $8,700.

  • Physical and Mental Stress: Caregivers often experience burnout because the mental and physical anxiety is so overwhelming. Caregivers develop feelings of depression, guilt and anger as a direct result of their caregiving duties. Further proving the absolute necessity that caregivers take time out for themselves. Caregivers tend to get so caught up in their daily routine they forget how important the little indulgences are to one’s mental well-being.

By acknowledging the common stressors caregivers are prone to, it may make it easier for you to cope with your new lifestyle. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is consoling enough.

More Than Tough Love

It is no secret that people tend to be the hardest on the ones they love. Family members often shoulder the burden of their loved ones’ emotional rage, which is only amplified when that family member is also serving as the primary caregiver to their elderly parents. It is hard to discern why elderly parents turn on the child that is trying to take care of them, but often their anger is rooted in their circumstances, not the actual family member.

Our loved ones may realize they are not as mobile or active as they used to be, they may be experiencing a painful illness, they may be embarrassed  of their incontinence, or they may feel their memory waning. Whatever the cause, they often take their frustrations out on the ones they feel most safe and comfortable around. They are not consciously abusing their son or daughter, they are frustrated and take it out on family because they believe no matter how poorly they behave family won’t leave them.

When handling emotional abuse from elders, it is important to understand that your parent is frustrated, they feel as though their independence is slipping away and that death is fast approaching. As we age, we often feel betrayed by our bodies and feel humiliated for the help we require to simply survive each day. While our loved ones are undergoing a difficult time period in their life, it does not justify their negative and hurtful behavior toward their caregivers.

Detach Yourself from Insults

Although their insults may cut deep, it is important that you don’t take every insult personally. It is also important to be able to detach from the situation with love. If you are experiencing a particularly difficult period in your relationship, the best solution may simply be to take a break. If your parent is in a nursing home where you know they are receiving proper care, or you have a sibling that can take over the duties for a day or a week, allow yourself to get some distance. By spending a little time apart both you and your loved one will have time to recharge. As a caregiver, it is important to show your loved one that you will not tolerate being treated in an abusive manner, standing your ground often leads to better behavior on your loved one’s part. Being a caregiver is stressful enough without your care recipient bringing you to tears based on their poor behavior.

If your loved one lives at home with you, it may be a good idea to consider in-home care, finding a little respite will work wonders on your psyche. By detaching yourself from their care for even a short while, you may find that your parents gain a new appreciation for you. When you stand up for yourself, and remain kind, calm and loving, it is easier to get your point across. Your feelings are important, regardless of your loved one’s disposition. Taking a stand and letting them know their behavior is intolerable early on may save you a world of hurt throughout your caregiving journey.

 

 

 

The Caregiving Stress of Men

For decades now females have mostly been the ones who are taking the responsibility to be the caregivers of their aging parents or their aging in-laws. Around 65% of all caregivers were female in 2009. Men make up only about 35% of caregivers but that number has greatly increased from only 19% in 1996. In more recent years men have accounted for around 40% of all caregivers and the number has been continuously on the rise.

It’s a fact that women normally outlive men. The difference in life expectancy between men and  women was about 7.8 years in 1979 with women outliving men. This gap has been closing over the past few decades and in 2005 the life expectancy difference was only 5.3 years. Studies have shown that over the past decade the male population has been growing much faster than women in the 60+ age range. The number of males between the ages of 60 and 74 increased more than 35% while the number of females in that same age range increased only 29%.

So men and women are both living longer and males are living much longer than before. This along with more women working outside of the home has made it necessary for a lot more men to take on the responsibility to care for their parents or in-laws. This commitment can be quite stressful for men who are largely not used to this kind of responsibility.

Men by nature tend to put more stress on themselves than women and often have a tougher time dealing with the stress. Male caregivers are more likely to continue working full time which will greatly hinder the time available for them to deal with their stress in a healthy manner. Most male caregivers will feel embarrassed or uncomfortable helping their loved ones with daily hygiene and other daily activities. They will often become irritable and frustrated because they won’t be able to fix every problem associated to caregiving. Men want to be in control and if they’re not it can be very hard on them psychologically.

As the number of male caregivers continues to grow it is very important that men aren’t afraid to ask for help. Male caregivers often have a tougher time sharing their experiences with other family members, friends, or medical physicians. They are also largely unaware of the programs out there that can greatly assist them and in turn they tend to keep their problems internal which can lead to health problems of their own.

Help is out there guys; you just have to be willing to ask for it. Millions of others go through the same things every day and can help you with your issues. Caregiver support is available through numerous outlets online and elsewhere. Don’t put your own health at risk by keeping your problems to yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone who can help you through these stressful times and make things much easier on yourself.

Financial Planning for the Sandwich Generation

Over ten million baby boomers are currently strapped with the costs of raising children or supporting an adult child while also providing financial support to an aging parent, according to a Pew Research Center Report. With the addedexpenditures and financial strains, many baby boomers are financially drained and unable to save for retirement.

By administering just a few advance planning procedures, however, baby boomers can better equip themselves to manage added expenses without the risk of siphoning away their life savings. Continue reading

Financial Planning for the Sandwich Generation

Over ten million baby boomers are currently strapped with the costs of raising children or supporting an adult child while also providing financial support to an aging parent, according to a Pew Research Center Report. With the addedexpenditures and financial strains, many baby boomers are financially drained and unable to save for retirement.

By administering just a few advance planning procedures, however, baby boomers can better equip themselves to manage added expenses without the risk of siphoning away their life savings. Continue reading

The 6 Secrets to Achieving Balance Every Caregiver Needs to Know

Drunk by real Love

 

As a caregiver, everyday is a mishmash of appointments and routines. From the moment you step out of bed the frenzy ensues. While there is slight comfort in knowing you are not alone, you struggle to find the individual time and outlets that make both your life and your familys’ a little less hectic. Knowing where to look to receive respite and remain level-headed separates the balanced caregivers from those constantly striving to find peace of mind. All caregivers need to be given the tools to find balance each and every day to maintain their sanity and continue to provide excellent care. With a few helpful tips and a couple inside secrets from seasoned caregivers, embracing your inter-balance is finally within reach.

 

  1. Alleviate Winter Blues: The winter months are often a breeding ground for feelings of depression. With the let down from the holidays, the absence of the sun and the ever present gray skies, it is easy to feel down. Leaving the house every day even becomes a challenge with the slick ice and chilling temperatures, however there is no need to allow these feelings to consume your life. Make sure you and your care recipient are getting proper exercise to raise your endorphins. Walk through the mall, join a gym or seek exercise classes for your parents at a local senior center. Make sure to schedule a weekly event both of you can look forward to, whether it is going to a movie, going out to eat or having a friend over to the house.
  2. Winter Proof Your House: Just as winter can be a catalyst for the blues, it can also lead to increased panic for caregivers as they assess safety threats brought on by the winter months. Safety proofing the house for falls is imperative – remove throw rugs and make sure handrails are secured both inside and outside the house. Buy proper winter wear for your loved one – boots with added traction and heavy duty coats are a must. Also ensure that snow removal is adequately handled and that every entryway and sidewalk is properly maintained.
  3. Plan, Plan and Plan Some More:  One of the most critical elements to maintaining your sanity is keeping appointments and activities straight. Make sure to keep your calendar up to date and carry a planner with you. Make arrangements for doctor’s appointments well in advance and stay up to date on all the activities your family has planned as well. Take a notebook with you to all of your loved ones doctor’s appointments so you can jot down what the medical professionals tell you. Also keep notes in this notebook between visits to document your loved one’s progress or write down any questions that may arise.
  4. Maintain Your Support Group: Establishing a tight knit support group will lessen the stress you are undergoing. You should not have to do it all alone, if someone offers their help, hold them accountable and take them up on it. Consult friends, family, websites, books and local support groups. Maintain open communication with your family members and siblings to update them on your parents’ health and request their help.
  5. Examine your care recipient’s current situation: Compile all of your loved ones medical records, health conditions, prescriptions, doctor’s names and contact information. Take inventory of their financial health including their property ownership, debts, income, expenses and credit card information. Make sure you also have access to your parent’s important documents including their will, power of attorney, social security number, insurance policies and deed to the house. Knowing you have this vital information readily available will save you much stress and time.
  6. Say Goodbye to Caregiver Guilt: Guilt consumes much needed energy that should be channeled elsewhere. Never feel bad for living your life and enjoying time away from your caregiver duties, your loved one would want you to. They lived a full life and now it is your chance to do the same. Schedule “you time” on a regular basis. Make time for your spouse, family and friends or enjoy a weekend away.

 If you take these simple suggestions to heart your life will still be interrupted by the occasional bout of chaos, but you will be equipped with the tools to manage these speed bumps and maintain mental balance. Most importantly, always know that you are doing your best, and that your parent appreciates all that you do even if they don’t, or can’t, vocalize it.

I have too many responsibilities!

With age comes great responsibility!  And of course, this sandwich generation has a great deal of responsibility!  Many may still be working fulltime or part-time, trying to finish a thirty year mortgage while also helping their children finish school and taking care of loved ones!  Will the responsibilities ever stop?

The Society for Human Resource Management claims that one out of every five full time employees provides care for an older relative and nearly three-quarters of these employees have children under the age of 18 as well. That doesn’t mean you have any official licensure or professional medical training. More likely, you’re a family member without any special training, gifts or abilities.  How does that compound the stress of everyday life?   For most it adds one more dynamic to an already overwhelming and chaotic life. Trying to maintain a solid family life, paying the bills, worrying about the increase in your mortgage rate and paying for college text books can add extreme tensions and stress.

In the 8th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends by MetLife, some very astounding numbers were uncovered!

Those who say they live paycheck to paycheck:

42% of employees with children but no elder caregiving responsibilities

64% for those who are also caregivers.

Those who fear they can’t afford to buy a home:

37% of employees with children but no elder caregiving responsibilities

74% for those who are also caregivers

Those who worry about affording college for their children:

55% of employees with children but no elder caregiving responsibilities

72% for those who are also caregivers.

Surprised?  If you’re in the sandwich generation, these numbers only confirm what they already know.  Finding a way to take control is key and sometimes an impossible task.

Ask for help.  Find quality time with friends.  Women, in particular, need quality time with friends to unwind and relax. Take a moment of quiet time each day to express the love and thanks for what you do have in life; you will never be able to make that time up.  And remember, Breathe!

The Stress of Being a Caregiver is Real!

Is Being a Caregiver Taking a toll on your health?

Reports note that taking care of a sick or injured person takes a toll on the body and mind of the caregiver. It is difficult to take care of anyone who is ill, the initial responsibility takes time and energy away from the normal lifestyle once lived. When a family member becomes ill or needs care, many people feel compelled to help. There is constant worry and concern for a loved one who needs help. It is important to make sure all situations are covered in case an emergency does occur. If something were to happen and the proper precautions were not put in place, will you be left scrambling at the last moment?

LifeFone can help ease the stress and concern of leaving a loved one home alone or not being prepared. By providing 24 hour monitoring, the caregiver is given the opportunity to continue to live a somewhat normal life without having to constantly monitor the situation themselves. By providing an emergency response system to a person who is elderly, sick or ill, it takes stress off the family and caregiver and is transferred to the response team.

Being a caregiver is an act of selflessness. Be sure to look after yourself as well as the one needing your care. Consider a medical alarm so you can give yourself a break!