Each year, the number of family members caring for senior and sick family members only continues to increase. According to a recent survey, more than one in five Americans is now a family caregiver. Sadly, their commitment to helping sick and old loved ones made their health in a rougher state.
Despite one’s attempt to continue living a healthy lifestyle, their caregiving responsibilities often act as barriers to healthy living. This is since most family caregivers would go beyond normal patient care that an untrained individual can do to ensure their loved one’s health and comfort. The following shows five common healthy living challenges most full-time family caregivers face after assuming the role.
Getting Enough Me Time
No matter how much of a social butterfly you might be, there are times when spending alone time with yourself is the best way to relax, unwind, and take greater care of your health. But when you are caregiving full-time, you might feel guilty even thinking about dedicating an hour or two to do something for yourself. The sooner you get rid of the guilt of wanting, needing, and engaging in activities on your own, the better.
Realize that to be healthy, you also need time for yourself while doing things you love and enjoy doing. There should be no shame in wanting some alone time, especially when you need it the most. The key is to plan your “me time” well so you can make the necessary arrangements without taking your loved one’s health and safety for granted.
For instance, you could use a day or two to go on a road trip and be physically away from your caregiving responsibilities. Keep everything your loved one might need and call for backup. This will give you better peace of mind knowing your loved one is in capable hands while you take some time off to care about yourself.
Managing Caregiver Stress
Different things can cause your stress levels to surge. Knowing your stressors and learning how to address each one can help you fight caregiver stress, avoid caregiver burnout, and even achieve your health goals.
For instance, driving your loved one to a dialysis center three times a week is usually what stresses you out. You worry about their safety and comfort while having to drive them from and to their dialysis appointment. Why waste time doing this when you can make other arrangements to provide them with their much-needed treatments?
Sometimes, the best way to handle stress is to learn about alternatives and let go of what you can no longer handle. This could mean finding a reliable healthcare facility that has partnerships with large companies offering dialysis treatment or finding someone else to drive your loved one to the facility. You can then use this time to unwind while they receive their much-needed treatment and medical attention.
Keeping Finances in Check
Not all family caregivers are in charge of paying for their loved one’s healthcare expenses. But since you, too, have your own financial obligations to settle, it can be tricky to manage your finances while taking care of them full-time. Being able to provide for your own needs while caring for a loved one can help you pursue a healthier life.
The first step is to learn to live below your means. If you can make time to build your wealth through multiple investments, the better. Seek the expertise of financial advisors if you are in need of ways to get your finance back on track.
This is especially true if your personal finance is now affected because you are also paying for your loved one’s expenses. Find non-profits, government agencies, and organizations offering financial aids to people like your loved one. Some offer more than financial assistance to help your loved ones pay for their expenses.
Many family caregivers take relationships for granted after saying yes to full-time caregiving. They no longer make time to be with their other loved ones, nor do they find ways to socialize and find new connections. Remember that caregiving doesn’t necessarily mean you should cut yourself off from others.
Keep in mind that socialization is crucial for physical and mental health. By nurturing relationships outside of your caregiving roles, you can cater to your love and belonging needs. This, in turn, allows you to live happier, longer, and healthier.
These are just four challenges family caregivers often face when trying to embrace healthy living. It becomes tricky to make healthier decisions when you constantly worry and hover about your loved one’s health. But don’t forget that your health and happiness also matter. You can’t expect yourself to give your best in caregiving when you are financially, emotionally, socially, physically, and mentally drained.