Becoming a caregiver can be rewarding yet draining at the same time. Read on to learn more about caregiver role strain and how to prevent it.
Being the primary caregiver for a family member is a rewarding, yet challenging experience. You’re tasked with providing primary care for someone you love and is in need, without necessarily the proper support yourself.
In fact, according to AARP, there were an estimated 53 million unpaid family caregivers in America in 2020. When compounded by the fact that the majority of caregivers also work a paid job—it becomes clear how those hours of labor can take a toll on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, resulting in caregiver fatigue.
Caregiver strain is a persistent problem in the care community—one that, if left unaddressed, can lead to unmet needs or premature institutionalization of care-recipients.
But what exactly is caregiver fatigue, what does it look like, and how can you prevent it while providing family caregiving services?
Oftentimes when aging parents can't live alone, a family member may need to step in as a caregiver. However, providing primary care can sometimes include playing multiple roles, which can lead to caregiver stress and strain. Caregiver role strain is a form of exhaustion that can impact all parts of the individual’s life, including physical, mental, emotional, and psychological symptoms.
Although strain can show up differently in people, a few common symptoms of caregiver strain include:
Laura Kotler-Klein (MSS, LCSW, DSW), a Social Work Manager at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, notes that these symptoms—especially when unaddressed—intensify: “If the stress of caregiving isn’t addressed, it can lead to health problems, such as depression, anxiety, obesity and serious chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.”
Although there are many forms of stress that may impact your caregiving, two common stresses show up repeatedly in cases of caregiver fatigue:
One of the most common behaviors that can lead to caregiver fatigue or burnout is self-neglect. If your own personal needs have taken a back seat to those of your loved one, you may find yourself struggling to stay afloat.
Many of the signs of caregiver role strain are rooted in not having enough time to yourself. Don’t ignore your body’s signals that you are under chronic stress. Managing your own physical and mental health and well-being will ensure that you’re able to continue providing quality care for loved ones.
The airplane adage couldn’t be more true in the scenario of caregiving—you must put on your own “oxygen mask” before assisting others.
Whether you're wanting to learn how to become a caregiver for a family member or you've already been providing care, it's important to understand how to care for yourself first. An instrumental way to prevent caregiver role strain is by prioritizing your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being, allowing the best version of yourself to provide the needed care.
When this feels like an impossible task, consider these tips from experts:
Should financial barriers be locking you into an uncomfortable situation while you are caring for a loved one, know that there are options available.
It’s always when there are a million other tasks to focus on—refilling prescriptions, cooking dinner, driving your loved one to an appointment—that the roof decides to leak or the dishwasher breaks.
When financial strain comes, you can use your home’s equity to keep you grounded.
At Truehold, we offer a sale-leaseback solution that allows you and your loved one to stay for as long as you’d like and we’ll cover everything from upkeep to taxes and insurance. You’ll only have to pay utilities and month rent, which is at a fair market rate.
Truehold’s Sale-Leaseback solution is fully committed to supporting caregivers and their loved ones by easing the stress of home maintenance. Give us a call today—one of our advisers will help you determine if Truehold is a good addition to your caregiving plan.
1. ARP Public Policy Institute. Caregiving in the United States 2020. https://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2020/caregiving-in-the-united-states.html
2. Penn Medicine. The Reality of Being a Caregiver: Signs of Stress and How to Prevent Burnout. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/december/signs-of-caregiver-stress
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