Suddenly a Caregiver:
Recognize the effect on you
You never know when it is going to happen. Sometimes it creeps up on you. Other times, it happens in a flash. A family member, who was doing fine on their own, now needs your help. It might be just for little things, but more often it is a frequent need like dressing, driving, or grocery shopping. Your stress level begins to rise because you have no less on your plate than you already had. It can happen so gradually that you don’t even think of yourself as a caregiver.
Then you realize that you have put your life on hold. Your priorities have shifted. Perhaps your career or even your marriage begins to suffer as a result. Now you begin to recognize the long-term impact that being a caregiver can have on your life. These are some of the effects documented in various studies:
The Corporate Impact
- Absence & Tardiness
- Loss of focus; lower productivity
- Key employees leaving the workforce
- Increased stress and worry
- Taking less care of self
- Health issues
- Job loss
- Spouse & children may suffer
- Increased expenses (driving, food, supplies)
- Reduced income or delay in advancement
- Impact on family relationships
The impact that caregiving will have on your life is based on your level of sacrifice, the need level of the care recipient, and your ability to maintain a positive outlook. Those who try to do it all alone are the ones most likely to burn out. Caregiving is a team sport! Roughly 30% of caregivers die before the person they are caring for. In the case of Alzheimer’s, the statistic rises to about 40%!
If you know someone who is a caregiver, reach out to them with even a small kindness. If possible, give them a break! Finances can be a limiting factor, but I still see those with resources trying to do it all. There are so many services available today to help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). Even a short respite or taking some small part off your plate can lower your stress.
If you are new to caregiving, you probably have no idea of the breadth of resources available to you. Talk to other caregivers, join an online forum, or reach out to those of us who network regularly with other professional providers. You will be astounded at what you can find to help you reduce your stress and concern about your loved one.