Every November is National Caregivers Month, a time when we give thanks to the caregivers in our lives and acknowledge the work they do to care for their loved ones. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about challenges in the caregiving field, educate communities about caregiving and increase support for our caregivers nationwide. Here, you’ll find out more about the challenges caregivers face and what you can do to support them.
National Family Caregivers Month
The National Family Caregivers Month was created by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), which is a nonprofit organization that provides free education, peer support and resources to family caregivers. This year, the theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock”, and focuses on educating the public about the realities of needing a full-time caregiver.
Challenges of Being a Caregiver
Part of National Family Caregivers Month is educating the public on the various challenges associated with being a caregiver. Here are a handful of ways that caregiving can create issues for caregivers that, if left unaddressed, can impact their own health and well-being.
Lack of Privacy
When a caregiver takes on the responsibility of looking after their loved one, they often have to be within close proximity to them at all times. This makes it difficult to create boundaries between the caregiver and the person under their care, which can lead to agitation and restlessness.
Financial stress is common for unpaid caregivers who forgo their jobs to look after their loved one. The longer the caregiver remains without gainful employment, the more financial strain the caretaking situation can render onto the household, increasing their stress.
Feelings of Guilty or Anxiety
Caregivers can often be afraid to ask for help. Many caregivers feel compelled to help their loved ones alone, thinking of it as a burden they don’t want to place on others. As time passes, caregivers can grow weary and may even make mistakes during the caregiving process, which in turn causes stress not only from lack of rest, but from feelings of guilt or anxiety.
All of these challenges can culminate in caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout is when the stress of being a caregiver eventually starts affecting the caregiver’s own life, leading to feelings of depression, isolation, and even resentment for the person under their care. These feelings can escalate quickly as the caregiver focuses more on bettering the life of the person under their care, often neglecting their own well-being in the process.
Unfortunately, burnout is a common issue. In fact, according to the AARP, roughly 12 million individuals report that providing unpaid care for loved ones has made their own health worse.
How to Show Support and Appreciation for the Caregiver in Your Life
Because of the stress that weighs on caregivers, it’s important to show them support and appreciation for what they do. Fortunately, there are several ways to express your gratitude.
Be a Good Listener
One of the best things you can do for a caregiver is to be a sounding board for them. Let them vent to you, but resist the urge to provide them with solutions to their problems. Caregivers don’t always need someone to fix their problems. Sometimes they just need to unburden themselves by getting things off their chest. Lending them your ear can make a huge difference.
When was the last time you reached out to the caregiver in your life? It can be an act as simple as a phone call or a text message. Let me know that you are thinking about them and that you care about them. Under their circumstances, caregivers can often feel isolated from everyone else, which may lead them to believe that they have few real friends in life. The best way to combat that is to go out of your way to show them that you are here for them.
Give the Gift of Time
Lastly, one of the best ways to show support for a caregiver is giving them alone time. The stresses of caregiving can ultimately lead to burnout, which makes for an increasingly depressed and detached caregiver. It’s important to let the caregiver know that they can take time for themselves every once in a while and catch up on activities they want to pursue without the person they’re caring for. If you’re able and comfortable doing so, offer to spend time caring for their loved one while they spend that time however they so choose.
Respite Care Options at Abbey Delray South
Everyone’s situations are different, and sometimes you’re not able to provide the support that a caregiver needs. In this case, consider presenting respite care as an alternative.
Respite care was created with caregivers in mind, offering them a chance to care for themselves while professionals provide for the needs of their loved one. Depending on the situation, respite care can look different for everyone. At Abbey Delray South, our community offers respite care stays of at least a week or more. Regardless of the specific form of respite care a caregiver seeks, it allows them to focus on themselves and reduces the chances of burnout.
If you or someone you know may benefit from respite care, our community is here to provide caregivers peace of mind that their loved one is in trusted hands. Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly, compassionate team for more information.