Close to seven million people provide unpaid care to aging loved ones on a daily basis, assisting them with activities of daily living like eating, dressing and bathing. Many of these family caregivers also perform various healthcare services, such as managing medications or daily injections, regardless of whether or not they have any expertise or experience in such tasks. While caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, caregiving can also present significant challenges. There may come a time when caregivers need to recognize their own health needs and make some decisions regarding the future care of their loved ones.
Family Caregiving Duties and Challenges
Although all experiences will vary, there are certain duties and challenges all family caregivers will face at one time or another. For instance, some of the top caregiving duties and the challenges they present include:
- Assisting with daily living activities. Helping loved ones out with their basic needs, like bathing and dressing, as well as cooking and cleaning, are often some of the top caregiver duties. Elderly loved ones often become reliant on family caregivers for assistance with everyday tasks, leading to caregivers spending more time on their loved ones’ needs than their own.
- Monitoring medication and various healthcare tasks. Caregivers are often required to administer medications or even intravenous fluids and injections- tasks they have no formal training to perform. Not only that, but caregivers also are required to deal with many of the financial and legal responsibilities of their loved one’s healthcare needs. This can lead to a significant amount of caregiver stress that can ultimately harm their own health.
- Mobility assistance. When chronic conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis make it difficult for the elderly to move about their home, family caregivers will help their loved ones move from place to place, such as from the bed in the morning to a chair in the living room. Or, helping them get into and out of the home or up a flight of stairs to the bedroom. The labor involved with helping elderly loved ones with mobility issues can be a demanding task that can put the caregiver’s own physical wellbeing at risk.
- There may come a time when it’s no longer safe for elderly loved ones to continue driving, so a common caregiver duty is to transport loved ones to doctor appointments, shopping trips, social activities and more, again leading to time constraints for caregivers to complete their own errands or spend time with their families.
Why Caregiver Support is so Vital
Being a family caregiver can ultimately take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. Managing the time you spend on caregiving duties and the time you spend on your own needs can become unbalanced, and most caregivers find they end up sacrificing not only vacations or hobbies, but also tending to their own health needs. This is especially true for caregivers who are still working full time or taking care of their own children while performing caregiving tasks, as there truly are only so many hours in the day to get things accomplished.
This is why caregivers should seek out a caregiver support group or respite services, or even consider starting the conversation about moving aging loved ones into assisted living. At an assisted living community, you can rest assured that loved ones will receive the right level of care, right when they need it, as these communities often provide differing levels of care all on one campus.
For more information about Respite Care at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/respite/.