Top 6 Challenges Caretakers Face
Top 6 Challenges Caretakers Face
Being a caretaker is one of the most rewarding careers one can have. You dedicate all of your time and energy every day to help others. You work in a field that requires you to be selfless and to be ready to interact with others almost 24/7. You may love your job, but any caretaker can tell you that it is a difficult job. Whether you are caring for a loved one or someone you had no initial relationship with, we understand the constant struggle you may experience. We compiled the top 5 challenges caretakers face.
When it comes to working as a caregiver, you are “on” 24/7. You know how important life is that you care for and you dedicate your days and nights to making sure your patient is in good hands. As a caregiver, you get little to no time for yourself. When you are caring for someone — even a loved one — full time, it can be incredibly difficult to make time for yourself and for self-care. Caregivers operate on their patient’s schedules, and given the fact that caring for seniors can be unpredictable, it can be a challenge when it comes to managing your time. Making plans for yourself is a rarity, and even if you do make plans, you never know when you will have to be there last minute for your patient. If you are having trouble managing your time as a caregiver, check out these tips that the AARP created for time management.
Guide to Caring for Elderly Parents
One tip for time management is to learn to love planning. By blocking out times of the day for certain activities, you might be able to manage your time better.
Since caregivers dedicate all of their time to improving others’ lives, it can be easy to become depressed or feel isolated from the rest of the world. This is an unfortunate reality for many caregivers, and it can be hard to get out of a state of depression and loneliness when you are already there. To help mediate those feelings, consider joining a caregiver support group in your area. These groups allow you to interact with individuals who are going through the same things you are. When you are a caregiver, the importance of self-care, for yourself is crucial. If you are not up to go to a support group, you may find solace with others online who are going through the same thing you are. Websites such as Reddit are open forum based platforms where you can talk to other caregivers.
Every now and then it is okay to ask for a day off. In fact, if your senior has other caretakers, try to negotiate a day where you can take some time off to focus on your own happiness.
Ironically, along with the feeling of isolation, you may also feel as if you have no “me time.” This is a common feeling — especially when you dedicate your life to the greater good of someone else. Finding the balance between “me time” and loneliness can be tricky. To start, try to think of things you would like to do during your “me time” if that’s reading, create a reading list of books you would like to dive in to. If you enjoy playing video games, find a couple you can play while your senior is preoccupied.
You can find “me time” for yourself during the times when you aren’t totally needed by your senior, and if you really feel smothered by them, encourage the senior you are caring for to join a knitting group, book club, or another group of seniors to allow some time for your self.
One thing that those who aren’t in the field of care giving may not take into consideration is how physically demanding the career is. Caregivers work with all types of people, large and small. If you are a more petite caregiver, it can be really difficult to move a bigger person around. When you have someone putting all of their weight on you and literally using you as their crutch, it can take a huge toll on your body. If your patient is at least somewhat mobile, consider investing in products such as step stools to help your patient get in and out of bed, or grab bars to help them get out of the tub. This can reduce the amount of weight your patient puts on your body. As always, assess their level of ability and only invest in products that you think your patient can use.
As a caregiver, your body is as important as your patients. When you are doing lots of heavy lifting, you may forget the importance of taking care of your own body. To help relax your muscles, consider joining a group yoga class, or watching stretching videos online.
According to the AARP, there are over 43.5 million caretakers in the United States who have provided unpaid care to someone in the past year. If you are a family caretaker, odds are you are probably very underpaid, or you aren’t even paid at all. As a family caretaker, you may feel uncomfortable asking to be compensated for the work you do, but at the same time, paying bills is an important part of life. When being a caregiver is a full-time job, the last thing you want to do is to take on even more work in order to make ends meet. If money is tight for you, take some time to sit down and budget out all of your spendings. Spend only on the necessities, and if money is still tight, consider looking for government assistance.
When your patient’s sleeping schedule is erratic, you won’t be sleeping too well. Often times you find yourself up in the middle of the night or early in the morning to assist with your patient’s needs. Since you live in the same household as your patient, you might not sleep well at all in anticipation of your patient needing something, but taking sleeping aids such as melatonin is risky as you want to be alert when your patient needs help. Lack of sleep can lead to insomnia and feelings of depression.
If you are suffering from lack of sleep, consider taking melatonin before bed each night. Melatonin will help calm you down and relax you before you go to bed. If you want to take a more natural approach to get better sleep, some have loved meditating before bed. Meditating can help calm and relax your body before you go to sleep.
Care giving is not an easy career. However, despite its challenges, you still persevere through your job every day. Remember that even though your job is difficult, you are doing something selfless and caring and that many people do not have the same level of commitment and drive that you do. Keep in mind that your physical, mental, and emotional health is just as important as your patients, so if you are feeling like you need help — reach out. You are important too and deserve care as well.