A caregiver is a person who looks after someone with a health problem and needing physical, emotional, and/or mental support. While many caregivers are paid professionals, most are unpaid, family caregivers, also known as informal caregivers. You may be astounded to learn that 43.5 million adults in the US provided unpaid, family caregiving services to their loved ones in 2014 alone.
Statistics from the Family Caregiving Alliance show that informal caregivers provide an average of 24 hours of caregiving per week. Many caregivers even said they spend more than 40 hours a week performing their caregiving duties. Caregiving is, undoubtedly, a rewarding experience. However, it also comes with many difficulties and challenges.
Caregiving difficulties and stress
As a caregiver, you know it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting at times. When the caregiving responsibilities increase, you may feel intimidated, stressed, and anxious. Some common difficulties and stress that family caregivers experience include:
- Difficulty managing time: Many caregivers feel like caregiving has robbed them of the time for themselves and their families. Providing care to a loved one consumes most of their time, leaving them with little or no time to enjoy themselves. Many people even experience challenges balancing caregiving with their work life.
- Caregiving stress: Physical and emotional exhaustion is yet another common problem that caregivers face. Caring for someone with serious health issues like Alzheimer’s or a dependent aged adult can be stressful. Consistent caregiving stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health, which is why you should seek timely support from people who relate. Not getting timely help can lead to the extreme condition of caregiver burnout.
- Isolation and sleep deprivation: Many caregivers provide full-time support to the care recipients, so much so that they’re left with no time for socialization. On top of that, if the care recipient’s sleep-wake cycle keeps changing, it can cause sleep deprivation for the caregiver. Combined, sleep deprivation, isolation, and stress can cause depression.
- Privacy and financial problems: Family caregivers who provide care for a loved one in another home, especially a smaller place, report having privacy problems. You may find it challenging to set boundaries to avoid unnecessary interactions. Also, since family caregiving is unpaid, you may face a financial strain, especially if you’ve left your paid job to take care of an ailing or aged loved one.
Get Help Now
If you’re facing any caregiving difficulty or stress, it’s time to take action to overcome the problems. Consider getting respite care to get a break from your duties for some time to focus on your health, interests, and needs.
It is also a good idea to talk to people who relate or have gone through similar experiences. If you can’t find someone in-person to share your experience, consider getting in touch with other family caregivers at Extendatouch’s online caregiver support group. People who have had a similar experience can provide you emotional support and share valuable advice, information, and tips to keep you going strong.