Updated: Jan 18
It is often said, "Caregivers find themselves doing things they never thought they could do," this can include personal care: bathing and showering, dressing and changing their loved one. Not knowing when or how...Being a caregiver to a loved one can take a tremendous toll, on any individual. Self-care or self-LOVE may seem inconceivable. Anything related to self, may seem a distant past.
One of the biggest challenges that caregivers face, they stop caring for themselves. Things that can be affected are: sleep, exercise, doctor appointments, nutritious food, isolation and/or depression, monetarily (they may have to quit their jobs or have a reduction in hours, adding to their stresses), showering, shopping, pet care, housekeeping and any extracurricular appointments (getting hair done, going to the bank, etc.).
The Five Biggest Challenges, Facing Caregivers
Monetarily: Often, when an individual takes on the role of caregiver to a loved one, they have to quit their job or reduce the amount of hours they have been working to accomodate this new role, either in their home, or that of the loved one--it is an unpaid, and can be a long-term position. Being a caregiver to a loved one creates new and added expenses, accumulated over time.
Isolation: The life the caregiver once knew, either working or spending time with family and friends, begins to dissopate. Simply going to the grocery store, or getting their hair done, can create new challenges. This isolation can deplete caregivers' emotional health, often leading to depression.
Sleep Deprivation: Many caregivers lack adequate sleep, quantity and quality. They either have their ear to a monitor or they're sleeping in the same room with their loved one, and then getting up, anywhere from every few hours, to several times per night to assist their loved ones with medication, drinks of water, the restroom, or to change them or change the bedding.
Planning and Organizing: Being a caregiver to a loved one is centered on that loved one's needs. The caregiver may need to shower or wash and change their loved one several times per day, change the bedding more than once per day, may need to accommodate a special diet, medications, their appointments...all of this can make it difficult to manage a day's time, doing other needed tasks, such as housekeeping, laundry, accounting, shopping, or even simply getting a shower and a few minutes of alone time for the caregiver.
Mental and physical exhaustion: Monetary stresses; sleep deprivation; not eating enough, eating too much, or not eating healthily; the day-in and day-out stresses of physically caring for another's physical and mental needs; not having enough hours in the day to get everything done or tend to any personal needs (or wants), ALL of this can, and more than likely will, lead to mental and physical exhaustion for the caregiver.
What can a caregiver do to help their loved one and to help themselves? First and foremost, caregivers should ask for help. So often, many individuals are afraid to say, "I need help." Start with a friend, neighbor, co-worker or cousin. Be specific when asking for help: "I need someone to stay with mom, Tuesday at 2:00 pm; I need to attend a doctor appointment;" or "Kathy would you be able to bring a meal [or grocery shop] for me tomorrow? I'm struggling right now."
Check with the local senior agency. They may have a program available at low or no cost, bringing in trained caregivers a few hours per week, allowing the caregiver to tend to their own needs and re-charge their batteries.
Call on local agencies to bring someone in as frequently as daily (this could be during the day or night) or as little as a few hours per week. For many individuals, the initial cost can seem challenging; however, when weighed out, bringing in a trained caregiver or CNA, can alleviate many or all of the challenges facing a caregiver.
For more information on care services for a loved one in Southern Colorado, call CareCorner Colorado Respite Care: 719-691-5206 or visit them on the web: www.carecorner.org.
Gina Paradiso Cathcart is the director of CareCorner Colorado Respite Care. She is a health care educator, passionate about service to others and quality patient care. She can be reached at email@example.com