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5 Difficulties Family Caregivers Face

Spouses, relatives, and friends provide the majority of today's caregiving, called family caregiving. Many of us have become caregivers at some point in life, but for those with aging parents, disabled children, or spouses suffering from a long-term illness or injury, it may be a never-ending task. Caring for a loved one is undoubtedly fulfilling; however, with all the responsibilities that require endless amounts of time, energy, patience, and even finances, caregiving can be overwhelming and stressful. Each situation is unique, but here are common struggles family caregivers face and effective ways to cope:

Time Management

Family caregivers spend about 24.4 hours weekly providing care, and a good number of them still have full-time jobs, businesses to run, or work part-time. Now imagine those with other family members to take care of, and you're left with zero time for yourself, let alone handling all these responsibilities.

In that case, take advantage of services like house cleaning and medication delivery to help free up some time. Virtual doctor appointments can also be a time saver unless, of course, an in-person visit is a must. It's also important to ask for all the help you can get from family members, friends, and even professional caregivers. Balancing your time between caregiving and personal care can help avoid burnout.

Family Caregivers Risk Social Isolation

With caregiving duties taking up much of your time, you may have little to no time for social activities. Caregivers may also feel isolated because they feel no one really understands their situation. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, and depression.

First, reach out to close friends and family for help so you can have some time for a social life. You can also look into caregiver support groups in your local area that organizes activities. Lastly, if the one you're caring for can participate, try arranging activities that both of you can enjoy together with others.

Feeling Guilty

This is something many family caregivers struggle with. You might feel like you're not doing enough for your loved one, but at the same time, be afraid to ask for help because you think it's a sign of weakness. First of all, cut yourself some slack because you are doing a commendable job. And, as already suggested, seek and accept as much help as possible.

Health Risks

There's a lot to juggle when caring for a loved one, from helping them with bathing and getting dressed, managing medications and doctor's appointments, lifting and helping with mobility, and so on. The physical demands of caregiving can take a toll on your physical well-being. It's also common to experience high emotional and mental stress levels, negatively affecting your overall wellness. To keep your health in check, exercise regularly, get proper nutrition, get quality sleep, manage your worries, and seek professional help to help you through mental wellness.

Financial Strains

Family caregivers tend to miss work or quit their jobs altogether to create time for their caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, since they remain unpaid for these duties, it can strain their finances. The time that you could use to make money goes to caregiving. You may also have to forego a career and educational opportunities, meaning limited income.

In addition to not bringing in money, family caregivers often incur on average $5,000 per year on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses. The longer you have to provide family care, the more financial strain you'll feel.

The good news is there are several local, state, and federal organizations that offer financial assistance. You and your loved one can take advantage of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) for starters. This is a New York State Medicaid program that allows consumers to hire their own caregivers, including family or friends. You can get paid while taking care of your loved one.

Learn More About Elite Choice

Elite Choice is a company devoted exclusively to servicing clients who choose to access self-directed home health care via New York State's Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). Contact us today to learn more.

Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services

Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.