The Unexpected Challenges of Caregiving
We talk a lot about caregiving here – and for good reason. The vast majority of us will, at some point in our lives, be called upon to act as a caregiver to an aging parent or loved one at some point in our lives and, while our primary purpose is to serve the elderly in San Diego, another of our goals is to help the children and family members of the elderly become better caregivers to their loved ones and avoid caregiver burnout.
It seems that, as we get older as a society and the early baby boomers are reaching their golden years, we’re hearing more and more about caregivers from the media, on the Internet and in our day to day conversations. Because of that, we end up with a lot of information about caregiving. But here are some things about caregiving that you may not be expecting.
It’s a Physical Job
More often than not, when you hear about the exhaustion associated with caregiving, people are talking about the emotional toll that it takes on the caregiver. This is definitely true – we wouldn’t talk so much about caregiver burnout if this weren’t the case. What people tend to forget during all the talk of burnout is how physically demanding the job can get. Helping a grown person stand up, sit down, get into and out of bed – plus any of the other situations in which they may find themselves – can tweak your body in ways that it wasn’t meant to move leading to pulled muscles, skeletal issues and other challenges that you may not be considering. Make sure you have good health care practitioners on your team. A good massage therapist couldn’t hurt either.
Everything about caregiving tends to raise your cost of living at least a little bit. If you decide to offer care at home, you have to account for the extra food, water, gas and electricity being used in your home on a daily basis. If you choose to bring in help, the costs will go up but not nearly as much as if you were to pay for an assisted living facility. There are resources available to help keep the costs of caregiving as low as possible, but keep in mind that there are the overt costs of caregiving that you know to think about but there are also costs that aren’t as expected.
The Health Care System Is Not Your Friend
I’ve seen this on a number of occasions, both with my own family and with others’. Advocating for your loved ones and working inside the health care system as it stands can be incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, most healthcare professionals find themselves relegated to a relatively narrow area of focus and have a hard time seeing the whole field. And the worst part is that, typically, you’re the only one keeping your loved one’s goals in focus as they make recommendations based on their practice area. It won’t be easy but make sure that all of your loved one’s health providers are reminded of your their wishes and put those first
You’re Not Going to Know How to Do Most of the Tasks You Have to Do
Unless you’ve come from a nursing, medical or social service profession, you’re going to be wading into completely uncharted waters here. Chances are you’ve never had to manage medications or administer an IV. And the only time you’ve had to worry about finances and legal issues were when they were yours. This is going to be completely new territory for you so cut yourself some slack. You’re going to make mistakes – minimize them, correct them and remember them so you don’t repeat them.
You Probably Won’t Get a Thank You
Remember that, although your parent may not be able to express their gratitude for what you’re doing day in and day out for them, it’s more than likely that they’re going to bed every night thankful that they have someone to help them through all of this.