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.
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.