While caring for a loved one can be a rewarding and positive experience, caregiving can also present significant challenges to a family caregiver. On average, a caregiver will spend upwards of 24 hours each week providing the care their ageing loved one needs. More women provide caregiving tasks to loved ones than men. Nowadays, more men today step into the primary caregiver position.
These family caregivers generally assist their loved one with activities of daily living, like dressing, eating and bathing, and many also go above and beyond by performing various healthcare tasks, such as administering medications or injections.
One of the biggest challenges family caregivers face is to balance family responsibilities while working full or part-time outside the home. These responsibilities include:
- Work in the office for 7-8 hours
- Care recipient, Children, Spouse,
- Their own day-to-day lives like self-care.
Handling care responsibilities are worrisome and what will happen to your family member if something happens to you adds to the anxiety.
They lead to the feeling of resentful towards the care recipient or siblings. Although, you are giving your best, still you end up with the guilty feelings of not doing enough or not providing better care. Have patience with yourself.
Family Caregiver’s Various Roles
- Handle Social networking and Contact
- Look after and manage the health of their own and family members
- Accomplish finances to fulfil the home and family expenses
- Regular Food and homely Shopping
- Communicate to Healthcare agent and hospitals
- Cooking and Cleaning the home
- Personal care – Bathing/Dressing for an elderly person
- Assist in Activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Assisting with incontinence supplies or equipment
- Applying bandages, ointment, treating pressure sores, or post-surgical wounds
- Help with transferring from one place to another
- Support using technology such as mobile devices, Laptop and apps
Challenges Family Caregivers Face
Some of the challenges that family caregivers deal with in caregiving for relatives are physical, emotional and economic.
Each caregiving situation is unique and complex, however, there are certain duties and challenges all family caregivers will face at one point or another.
Don’t feel like you’re alone or you need to do it all yourself because the care recipient is a relative. The help of your other relatives can also be available and you’re encouraged to ask for it, even if you believe you can do it all alone.
There are services, information, training, and counselling that can help you provide better care to a relative. By doing so, you’re taking better care of your health and financial future.
- Healthcare knowledge: Gather the correct knowledge and education of health and medical conditions of the care recipient. Education and know-how on caregiver tasks, knowledge of medications and adherence
- Health Concerns – Physical, mental, and emotional demands. Sleep problems, Fatigue and risk of illness
- Financial burdens and strains – Handle the costs of giving care
- Assisting with mobility issues such as helping seniors get in and out of bed or a chair is the most common task for a family caregiver.
- Mental health concerns- Burnout, anxiety, depression and stress. High rates of negative affect including guilt, sadness, dread, worry.
- The steadiness of Social and Family well-being – Balancing family life along with caregiver duties.
- Home and Work balance – office and employment challenges, Loss of time for self-care, reduced quality of life
- Gathering legal documents– Maintaining health records of the care recipient
Suggestion for Caregivers to Attend to Self-Care
- Exercise regularly – get at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.
- Eat right. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress.
- Get rest and sleep. Aim for an average of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
- Health checks – visit your doctor and dentist for regular health checks
- Take time to relax and do meditation on a daily basis
- Pay attention to signs of depression and anxiety – get professional help if needed.
- Stay social. Make it a priority to visit regularly with other people.
- Do things you enjoy and don’t give up activities that are important to you.
- Give yourself a break. Take regular breaks from caregiving.
- Join a religious group, social club, or civic organization.
- Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings.
- Talk out your situation with someone to make sense of your feelings.
- Pray, meditate, or an activity that makes you feel part of something greater.
Providing care for an aging or ill parent can bring out the best and the worst in various relationships. Ideally, the experience of caregiving is a time for other relatives to come together and provide mutual support to one another. However, as a stressful transition, the pressure can also lead to strained connections and painful conflict. Resolving these conflicts can be challenging. But ignoring the difficulties in a caregiving situation can create greater challenges.