Family Caregiving: Help and Support for Caregivers

A family caregiver is a family member who provides recurring or long-term care for an elderly family member with no compensation. Family caregivers often feel overwhelmed or unprepared for the physical and emotional toll that caregiving can take.

It is very important for family caregivers to regularly take time off from their duties in order to practice self-care, look after their physical and mental health, and enjoy their hobbies.

Without time off, family caregivers can experience burnout, which can affect their own health and their loved one’s health, as well as cause strain in their relationships with family and friends. If you or a loved one act as a family caregiver, read this important guide to taking care of yourself and finding help and support.

Physical Burdens of Family Caregiving

Caregivers are under a huge physical burden when providing services to an elderly family member. They may have to help their loved one in and out of bed, help them move around their home, assist them with bathing and dressing, and move them in and out of a wheelchair.

They also are likely doing housework and chores like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. Most family caregivers provide these services on top of working a full- or part-time job and taking care of their other family members.

This can take a huge physical toll. One out of every five family caregivers over the age of 65 has coronary heart disease or has had a stroke. One out of every seven family caregivers has heart disease or has had a stroke.

A study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that one in four caregivers claims that caregiving has worsened their physical health.

Emotional Burdens of Family Caregiving

Caring for a family member can also be an emotional burden. So much of your energy is taken up by worrying about how they are feeling, whether they are happy, if they have everything they need, and how their health will be in the future.

Caregiving causes a lot of stress and anxiety, which can lead to depression, insomnia, disordered eating, and other emotional and mental health conditions.

Caregiving for a family member can also affect your relationships with friends and other family members, especially if you or they feel you don’t have enough time for them anymore.

Financial Strains of Family Caregiving

While family caregiving is often less expensive than assisted living or an in-home caregiver, it still can have a negative financial effect. Family caregivers often have to adjust their work schedules, call in sick, or take vacation days to care for a loved one.

They also have to pay out of pocket for meals, groceries, supplies, and other things their loved one needs. They may even pay for medical care services and medications. On average, family caregivers spend $7,000-9,000 per year on their loved one’s needs.

Recognizing Signs of Caregiver Burnout

If you are able to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout, you can get professional help and tend to your needs before it affects your ability to care for your loved one. The most common symptoms of caregiver burnout are:

  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Health problems
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in skin and hair
  • Low self-esteem
  • Neglect for personal hygiene
  • Neglect of work, relationships, and caring for their own home

Finding Community Support for Caregivers

There are many local and national support agencies that offer support to family caregivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Center of Excellence, Family Caregiver Alliance, and Caregiving Resource Center all offer support and resources to caregivers.

They can direct you to local or community agencies near you who can provide support. Community and national agencies related to senior services, aging, and your loved one’s specific condition or disease can also provide support, such as the Alzheimer’s Association.

Finding Spiritual or Professional Support for Your Mental Health

If you attend a church, temple, or other place of worship, you can seek support from a spiritual leader or advisor. You can also seek professional help and guidance from a therapist, psychiatrist, social worker, or counselor.

Being Aware of Your Own Physical and Mental Health Needs

It’s very important to track and be aware of your own physical and mental health needs. If you start feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, reach out to a friend or family member for help.

Don’t neglect self-care, hygiene, doctor’s appointments, caring for your own home, or spending time with friends and family. Make sure you also make time for your social and recreational needs, like your hobbies and interests.

Focusing on the Benefits of Caring for an Elderly Family Member

While it’s important to recognize the dangers of caregiver burnout and be honest about the physical, emotional, and financial burdens of family caregiving, it is also important to remind yourself of the benefits.

Like any other community service or volunteer job, there are amazing benefits that can sometimes outweigh some of the difficult aspects of the job. Family caregiving allows you to:

  • Keep your loved one in the comfort of their own home or your home
  • Help your loved one retain some independence and autonomy
  • Keep your loved one out of a facility or institution
  • Reduce your loved one’s risk of isolation or depression
  • Manage health conditions and prevent illness and injury
  • Reduce your loved one’s risk of a fall or medication mishap
  • Increase your self-confidence and help you build new skills
  • Give you one-on-one time with your loved one to get to know them better
  • Give you a sense of purpose

Scheduling Respite Care

One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of caregiver burnout and give yourself a much-needed break is to schedule respite care services. Respite care is temporary or short-term care for your loved one that allows you to work, take a vacation, spend time with friends and family, go to doctor’s appointments, attend events, and enjoy your hobbies.

Without regular respite care, your physical and mental health will suffer and then you may not be able to effectively and safely care for your loved one. The most common type of respite care is in-home care. In-home care or senior care services are provided in your home on your schedule.

An in-home caregiver can provide services like assistance with the tasks of daily living, bathing, dressing, grooming, personal hygiene, and eating.

They also offer safety monitoring and socialization, and may also offer light housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping, transportation, memory care services, medication management, and mobility assistance.

Learn More About In-Home Respite Care Services

At Placita In Home Care, we specialize in providing reliable, compassionate in-home care services throughout Southern Arizona. Our experienced, licensed caregivers are highly skilled and trained in elder care, Alzheimer’s care, dementia care, joint replacement care, and in-home hospice care.

We also offer free community services to elders, including in-home safety assessments, assisted living placement services, and assistance filling out the Care Bridge application for financial assistance for assisted living services.

Call us today or contact us online to learn more about our respite in-home care services or to schedule an appointment with us for a consultation.