Family & Caregivers

5 Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Role Strain | Truehold

August 5, 2022
5 Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Role Strain | Truehold
An old person and a young person play cards over a wooden table.
Image: Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

The holidays are supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but for the many Americans experiencing caregiver role strain, this season can be challenging.

As this year draws to a close, over 41 million informal caregivers are providing nearly $470 billion in unpaid support to their family member or other loved ones. On average, these unpaid caregivers contribute between 17 and 22 hours per week of home care–totaling over 1,100 hours per year.

Caregiving During the Holidays: A Recipe for Stress

Adding holiday hassle to primary caregiver hours, careers, and familial duties is a recipe for high stress.

“Some caregivers can be very isolated during the holidays due to their caregiving responsibilities and their inability to join activities that they used to enjoy with friends and family,” says Stephanie Paul, MSW, LCSW, Community Options Specialist at Aging Ahead in St. Louis. “On the other hand, a caregiver who still attempts to be social with friends and family can experience exhaustion and financial strain trying to maintain holiday traditions while also managing the care of a loved one.”

Common Challenges Family Caregivers Face

While family caregiving can be an incredibly rewarding experience, the intensity of the commitment can be taxing. Some of the most common challenges that an unpaid family caregiver faces are:

Mental Health Concerns

  • Depression, anxiety, and isolation – Caregiver duties take so much time and focus that it’s difficult to maintain self-care and social support, which can lead to mental health struggles. 
  • Guilt – Informal caregivers who see caring for their loved one as their primary responsibility may view asking for help as a sign of weakness. They may also take any decline in their loved one’s health as a personal failure.

Physical Health Concerns 

  • Physical stress and strain – One in five caregivers reports high physical strain as a result of caregiving. Physical demands, like lifting and mobility assistance, can take a toll on a caregiver’s body. 
  • Weakened immune system – Without time for self-care, stress, lack of sleep, a poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to a weakened immune system. 23% of caregivers report that their health has worsened because of caregiving.

Social Challenges

  • Time scarcity – Caregivers are often so caught up in providing care that they sacrifice leisure activities like spending time with friends, engaging in hobbies, or going on vacations.
  • Financial strain – With much of their time occupied by unpaid labor, caregivers may encounter financial strain, especially when their duties take them away from a paying job.

If you’re a family caregiver or primary caregiver, it’s important to remember that all these struggles are normal, and you’re not alone. It’s just as necessary to take care of yourself and avoid burnout as it is to take care of those around you. Here are 5 tips for how to deal with caregiver stress and avoid caregiver burnout:

1. Share the Load

Accept help from family and friends or find respite care. There are three types of formal respite care to explore:

  • In-home respite care: aides come to your loved one’s home to provide companionship, nursing services or both
  • Adult day care centers: provide health care and social programming in a community setting
  • Short-term nursing homes: many accept guests for short stays to relieve caregivers

Even a short, informal break can be helpful. “Reach out to loved ones or neighbors to provide respite while you run errands or do some holiday shopping,” Paul suggests. CaringBridge is also a great tool to reach out to your loved ones’ network for support. 

2. Set Realistic Goals

Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Try out these caregiver management apps to help you prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say no to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday parties. 

3. Remain Connected to Family and Friends 

Connecting with loved ones relieves stress and strengthens your support system for when you need it. If you’re looking for social connections that understand your caregiving experience, try out one of the many popular caregiver support groups. 

4. Set Personal Health Goals 

While establishing a good sleep routine, finding time to be physically active, eating a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water might seem impossible, they are necessary for you to stay in good health and spirits. 

“Don’t neglect your own health. See a doctor regularly and discuss how caregiving is affecting you physically and mentally,” adds Paul.

5. Take Advantage of Caregiving Resources 

In addition to those previously mentioned, there is a multitude of resources available for caregivers, from guides on specific health issues, financial questions, and legal concerns, to help locate transportation and home meal delivery services. The National Alliance for Caregivers is a great place to locate these national and local resources. The AARP also has an excellent Family Caregiving website and Family Caregivers Discussion Group on Facebook. 

For caregivers in St. Louis, Aging Ahead compiled a Caregiver Resources document. “This is a great place to start for caregivers in the St. Louis area, but always remember that you’re not alone in this journey,” advises Paul. “Find somewhere you feel safe to share and where others are listening.”

Bonus Tip: It’s Okay to Start Small

As committed as you are to taking care of others, it is equally important to take care of yourself. 

“Make time for yourself every day. Stretch, listen to music, breathe, read – whatever brings you increased health and comfort, even if it's only for 5 or 10 minutes,” says Paul.

A New Way to Help Your Loved Ones Live Better at Home

At Truehold, we’re dedicated to supporting caregivers by helping your loved ones live at home safely and affordably through our Sale-Leaseback solution

After your loved one sells their home to Truehold, they’ll be able to stay and rent it back for a fair market rate. We cover home upkeep, taxes and insurance, while your loved one is only responsible for monthly rent and utilities. They can then stay living in their home until they decide it’s right to leave—whether that be in a year, twenty years, or even just a few months. 

By cashing out on their home equity, your loved ones can fund care services and quality of life improvements that could take some responsibilities off your shoulders and ease the financial, physical, and emotional toll of family caregiving

Additionally, Truehold eases the burden of maintaining your loved one’s home. As a caregiver, the last thing you should be worried about is a leaky roof, broken dishwasher, or lawn maintenance. That’s why we take care of it for you.

If you’d like to learn more, give us a call at (855) 632-0710, and one of our advisors can help determine if Truehold is a good option for your loved one.

Get a free info kit to learn more about Truehold's Sale-Leaseback.

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