Today I Learned...
- Family caregivers need to prioritize self-care to keep their health in check.
- Caregivers can lack in their care for their loved one's if they don't care for themselves.
- There are many strategies caregivers can practice for self-care. It will look different for every caregiver!
ou may have heard about the financial cost of family caregiving—the lost wages, the expenses related to caring for an ill family member, or even the costs associated with caring for a parent with Alzheimer's disease.
But there's another cost that often goes unnoticed. The toll caregiving takes on your mental health and well-being.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 65 million Americans -- about one in three adults -- care for their friends or family members.
That number is expected to grow by 44 percent between 2014 and 2024.
Understandably, you might feel a sense of pride when you hear that the numbers are increasing. On the other hand, it's also important to realize that this means more people are becoming caregivers and will likely have a negative impact on their own health if they don't take care of themselves first.
The reality is that many caregivers will eventually need help themselves as they age, so it's important not only to take care of yourself now but also provide information and resources to others who may be able to help your loved ones when needed most.
Resources to share with new caregivers:
- Practical Tips for First-Time Caregivers
- What Are the Top 5 Qualities of a Good Caregiver?
- Caregiving 101: The Digital Way
- 6 Topics to Discuss with a New Caregiver
60% of the caregivers say the role of caring for a loved one is having a negative effect on their own health.
The role of caregiving can be physically and mentally stressful.
It may lead to depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness. Caregivers often experience sleep problems, which can lead to chronic fatigue, irritability and illness.
Learn how to prevent burnout and save your sanity:
Family caregivers are less likely to take care of themselves.
Caregivers visit their own doctors less frequently and have poorer nutrition than non-caregivers. This can be attributed to the fact that many family caregivers don’t have time for themselves, especially when their loved one requires round-the-clock care.
Untreated mental health issues such as depression also affect family caregivers more than they do other people. In fact, it’s estimated that 95% of all chronic illnesses are stress related! These types of problems often go unnoticed because they don't cause physical symptoms like aches and pains or shortness of breath; instead they manifest in feelings like anxiety or sadness along with difficulty sleeping at night due to worry over how things will turn out if something goes wrong (which it inevitably does).
Learn the importance of self-care and how you can take care of yourself while caring for others: Taking Care of YOU: The Importance of Self-Care as a Caregiver
The good news is that there are many ways you can manage your own stress levels.
As a Caregiver, you can manage your stress by practicing self-care techniques such as meditation or exercise. And by keeping a positive attitude!
Finding time for yourself through hobbies or relaxation will help you remain mentally healthy while also lowering your physical burden.
Family caregivers need a support network now more than ever before.
You know what they say: it takes a village. And we all know that the village isn't just for children of all ages—it's also for caregivers who are taking care of their loved ones. Caregivers need:
- To be able to talk about their feelings and needs with people who understand what they're going through. Check out GetSetUp's Caregiving Classes to get support.
- To be able to ask for help when they need it, without feeling like a burden or asking too much of others.
- Time off work so they can get away from all the responsibilities and just relax for an hour or two each day. Learn more about respite care.
- And they also need some time where it's just them—no one else around; no worries about anyone else but themselves—so that they can recharge their batteries and recharge their emotions so that when things start feeling overwhelming again, there's still some energy left in the tank for them (and everyone else).
With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that caregiving can be a rewarding experience.
The support network we need is already here -- you just have to reach out for help! If you find yourself in need of assistance with caring for an aging parent or other loved one, there are many resources available.