For most families, caregiving for a loved one becomes a natural progression within a family unit. So much so, the National Institute of Aging reports that millions of Americans fall into a caregiver role for a friend or family member. Whether for a spouse, parent, child, sibling, relative, friend or neighbor, we all usually find ourselves in a caregiver role at some point in our lives.
Despite being a challenging role to fill, the CDC recognizes informal or unpaid caregivers (family members or friends) as the backbone of long-term care provided to those in need. Let’s take a deeper look into what being a caregiver involves, how to combat caregiver burnout, and what resources are available to caregivers.
Common Daily Tasks of Caregiving:
- Grocery shopping and cooking
- Cleaning the house and doing laundry
- Providing transportation for the loved one
- Schedule medical appointments and coordinate care with various medical providers
- Assist your loved one with daily activities such as dressing and bathing
- Providing emotional support to your loved one
Combating Caregiver Burnout
Caregiving is no easy task. Whether you are providing caregiver services in person or from a distance, it can be a labor of love that brings both positive and negative emotions. Experiencing a loved one going through a physical and/or cognitive decline is challenging enough, but now you may find yourself tasked with managing the well-being of someone who is newly struggling to care for themselves. Oftentimes, these are people near and dear to us which can make it even more difficult to see the changes they are encountering. While being a caregiver for a loved one, you also may find yourself making emotionally taxing decisions which can be distressing in itself.
In addition to navigating a loved one’s newfound challenges, it is important to acknowledge that your personal life and responsibilities do not disappear when a loved one needs help. Despite oftentimes having additional responsibilities on our plates, such as jobs and families of our own, we devote time and resources to support those who need it.
Though challenging, it is important to take care of yourself both for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those you are caring for. Here are a few ideas of ways to help keep you and your loved ones well and away from burnout.
Organize your loved one’s schedule
Creating a physical schedule of medications, appointments and more will help you, your loved one and any additional caregivers to stay on task and ensure no needs are missed.
Build in time to do things you enjoy
It can be easy for caregiving to become overwhelming and all encompassing so it is helpful for the family caregiver to build in time to go on a walk, have a meal with a friend or spend time doing any personal and pleasurable activities.
Ask/Accept help when needed
Whether seeking help from a friend/family or from a professional, caregiving is a challenging task to do on one’s own. Although it can be difficult to ask for help, it is important for everyone involved to accept help when possible.
Resources to Support Family Caregivers
At Lightyear Health, we understand the physical, emotional and financial strains that often come with caring for a loved one. With that, Lightyear Health is committed to supporting both patients and their families. If your loved one is receiving services with Lightyear Health, we are pleased to offer a Caregiver Wellness Program to support the wonderful family/friends of our patients who seek support during these challenging times. Our Caregiver Wellness Program provides therapy services to assist in processing and coping with any experiences and/or feelings that arise.
If you are interested in enrolling in our Caregiver Wellness Program or are seeking additional caregiver services, please reach out to the Lightyear Health team – we are happy to discuss program options and your insurance coverage with you directly!
Caregiving 101 – Family Caregiver Alliance
Caregiving- National Institute on Aging