The work of a family caregiver, often in the form of a child caring for a parent, is nothing less than extraordinary. It is also something that many fail to fully appreciate, if they do not have to go through the grueling emotional and physical demands of such work. While it is important to remember that caregivers like you are human beings with their own lives, concerns, and even flaws, there is an argument to be made that caregivers are generally not appreciated enough. Many take on the responsibilities for the simple reason that there is no other choice. These caregivers are just as valid and crucial as those who choose to do it.
At the end of the day, anyone who takes on the role of caregiver in their family dynamic deserves the very best of resources. Thankfully, from organizations that provide several different types of assistance, to cellphones for seniors that can make communication easy for everyone, there are a lot of things available to you.
Let’s start by first understanding some of the most significant challenges facing family caregivers like yourself.
The Biggest Challenges Facing Family Caregivers
Whether you are just beginning to explore family caregiving as an option, or if you are an experienced caregiver feeling overwhelmed, a brief overview of the biggest challenges facing family caregivers can be quite helpful:
- The emotional strain: Caregiving can often be rather bittersweet. Caregivers under even the best of circumstances should expect a complex range of emotions.
- Stress/anxiety: The demands of managing a loved one’s life, while simultaneously dealing with your own, can create situations of high stress and anxiety.
- Burning out: Obviously, all of this can lead to substantial burnout. This can cause other aspects of your life, including work, to suffer. Your marriage and familial relationships can become strained.
- Depression: Focusing intensely on the life of another has a savage way of eating up our time. This can inadvertently create feelings of isolation, if you find your life outside of caregiving suffering to a significant degree. This, in turn, can lead to depression.
- Health: Your own health can begin to suffer, due to these challenges. If you are also facing your own health problems (the sight of children aged 50+ caring for their parents is becoming increasingly common), these issues can compound.
How To Use Your Caregiver Resources Effectively
While it can be difficult to manage resources, both tangible and emotional, from one day to the next, there are a number of things you can keep in mind. We have assembled some of the best basic tips for caregivers, particularly those just starting out. We will also discuss how to determine which resources are available to you in the first place.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Focus on what you know you need: You don’t have to be an expert on senior care resources in your city, state, or even country. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the beginning of all this, try to create a list of your most pressing concerns. You can then build your research around what you know you need. Try to think about these needs over the long-term, as well.
- Build your care plans around your senior: There are general resources for all things related to senior care. At the same time, there are also services that are designed around specific conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, stroke aftercare, and various chronic conditions. If you are dealing with something specific, make it a point to look for resources that are offered with situations like yours in mind.
- Communicate: If communication is possible between yourself and the senior you are caring for, make sure to maintain that connection as much as possible. Giving your senior as much control over their situation as possible can ultimately make things easier for everyone. If this not possible, try not to be too hard on yourself, if you are in the position of having to make these decisions largely on your own.
- Understand that in most cases, you actually aren’t alone: In terms of knowing what to do, or even finding assistance that can ease the physical burdens of senior care, there are more often than not resources available to you. Even if you just need a push in the right direction, you can find organizations and even social media groups (Facebook is good for this) that can provide you with such information.
- Start at the top: Still don’t know where to go? A simple Google search for caregiver resources can point you to national or more local organizations right on page one. Start with these, if you simply do not know where else to turn.
- Products for seniors: Another aspect of research that can prove helpful involves learning about products that are specifically created with not only the senior in mind, but also for anyone who might be playing a crucial role in their care. Cellphones and smartphones for senior citizens is just one example of what we are talking about.
Caring For Your Loved One Can Be Difficult
It can also be helpful to remember you have tons of options for different types of care. If you need care management, you can turn to a number of groups and organizations. If you need legal representation, there are lawyers and firms that specialize in providing such assistance.
The added work involved in research can certainly to an already stressed situation. That is easy to appreciate. Nonetheless, you will find that once you get started, things become clearer in fairly short order. Connecting to one resource can often act as a springboard to more information and additional resources. This is why we earlier suggested simply starting at the top, if you don’t know where to go for the help you require.
Regardless of what you ultimately find and choose, remember that you are not required to go it alone as a caregiver. The love you feel for your parent or another senior, including how important their care is to you, will not be diminished in the least by putting these resources to work. Remember this above all else, as you look for help.