Late at night, listening to the sound of rain gently cascading off the roof and dripping into puddles outside your bedroom window, do you ever wonder how this all started? You never thought you’d be a family caregiver, but there you are, struggling to sleep, your eyes so heavy, your body completely exhausted, and the stress showing signs of abuse on your body, mind, and spirit.
You never anticipated having to do this.
Most family caregivers don’t. November is National Family Caregivers Month and if you think you’re alone, think again. There are an estimated 44 million Americans acting as family caregivers, according to Forbes magazine. Most of the time these family caregivers are supporting aging parents, but they could be looking after a disabled child, their spouse, or even siblings.
Most of them never anticipated taking on this important job. So how do people end up as caregivers in their family? Below are three common reasons this happens. You may find yourself agreeing with at least one or two of them, but remember the stress of being a family caregiver is not going away unless you do something proactive about it, such as relying on help from outside.
Reason #1: No one else was stepping up.
Perhaps it was your elderly mother who landed in the hospital. You looked to your brother, sister, or others in the family, especially those who lived a little bit closer, but everyone had an excuse. So, you stepped up.
Reason #2: You live in the same town.
It makes sense if you live in the same town to help him or her out, doesn’t it? Of course, it does, but just because your drive to and from this person’s house is only a few minutes, it’s the amount of time you’ll devote to them in the weeks and months ahead they really begin to exacerbate the stress you feel.
Reason #3: You didn’t think there were better options.
Maybe you heard about home care agencies but thought that was unreasonable or unaffordable. The truth is it’s the most cost-effective senior care option there is that allows elderly men and women to remain at home.
If you book through an agency, you can even hire somebody for part-time care, which is a great way to transition from being a full-time primary family caregiver overwhelmed with stress and anxiety to let a professional, experienced caregiver do that work.
By leaning on a professional caregiver, you can focus your energies on the relationship that may have suffered from this senior as a result.