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Becoming a caregiver is rapidly growing every second, here are 10 aspects to be aware of when becoming a caregiver. You will at some point in your life be caring for your loved one. A child, spouse, parents or friend will need help. This is a blessing although is comes with some struggles. Being aware of the struggles will allow you the ability to address and plan for.
Time: Do you ever feel there is never enough time in the day. Maybe you wonder “if I just had 2 more hours in my day I could get so much more done”. These are common thoughts many people face daily. When you add being a caregiver to your already time pressed day you can begin to feel extremely overwhelmed.
Example: Taking care of your elderly mother who has dementia and can no longer remember how to do anything for herself. You must now cook her meals, feed her, bathe her, dress her and provide activities for her throughout the day that are stimulating as well as safe.
Now you need another 4 hours to your day to do what you need to accomplish along with caring for your mother. When becoming a caregiver, you are giving up some of “your time” to give to your loved one. As the caregiver, you must plan schedules and routines to allow you to get everything done in the day.
Physical Strength: When taking care of a baby/child you must change diapers, lift up and carry around the house and pick up when they fall, this is not too challenging because you are young, full of energy and the baby/child is not very heavy. Let’s picture this when caring for your elderly mother.
Example: It is the end of the day and you just completed cleaning up after dinner. Your mother made a huge mess with her spaghetti and needs another change of clothes. You are exhausted and your body aches because you are in your fifties and not as energetic as you once were. While changing your mother and putting her in her pjs she falls. You do not have the physical strength at this point to pick her up, you must call on friends or call the fire department because mother is a full-grown human (not that small baby/child).
As we get older the trivial things in life wear and tear on us. Leaving us unable to perform tasks we once could. This is important for both you and your mother’s safety. When being a caregiver you need to plan for this and what help is available to you when you cannot complete the task.
Isolation: This is usually not a thought on anyone’s mind when they become a caregiver but let’s look at this. When you have a baby, you can become isolated and exhausted in the first few months. While adjusting to a change in life you become accustomed to being a parent. Going places and building friendships with other who also have children. What if you are taking care of your elderly mother?
Example: When mother eats she drools from her mouth and it takes all you have not to throw up when eating with her. How can you take her out in public, how will that drool affect others while eating? So now you are eating all meals at home, just you and mom. Sometimes mom becomes confused and will fight me or yell out things. How can you take mom to the store for shopping or anywhere else because she could “go off” on anyone at any time? So, you stay at home, plus being at home makes caring for your grown mother easier.
This leads to isolation or feeling like you are alone and have no life. You are the caregiver and therefore you get no break from this duty. You as the caregiver, needs to plan time or ways for breaks with the help of others to rest and relax.
Lack of Sleep: Yes, you will experience lack of sleep with babies, children, spouses and parents. Lack of sleep can effect your body and personal help more than you realize.
Example: You put mother to bed and she is asleep when you decide to go to sleep also. You suddenly wake from your sleep because you hear a loud crash in the kitchen. Jumping up to see your mom trying to make a glass of milk which has broken on the floor. Now you must get mom back to bed and clean up the mess. This might occur every night. Even several times in the night.
You see sleep is important because it is the time our bodies heal and repair themselves from the day and prepare for the next day. We all need our sleep so you as the caregiver must make sure you are getting enough sleep this might require daytime naps.
Money: You are taking on the role of caring for another person and you must account for the added expense such as:
- Increase in water bill with another person bathing and more laundry
- Change in electric bill due to more usage since you are home all the time
- Increase in groceries with another mouth to feed
Example: There will be changes to your everyday expenses, but mom might have a social security check coming in monthly or retirement, which will help greatly.
You as the caregiver must manage the money in an appropriate way that your mother can get the best care now and in the future (including funeral arrangements).
Care for yourself: We have already seen from previous examples that you are giving up a lot when being a caregiver for your loved ones. It is easy for caregivers to put themselves last while making sure everyone else is getting their needs met.
Example: You keep telling yourself that you want a hot bubble bath at the end of a long day, you have been saying this for 2 weeks now but by the end of the day you are too tired from caring for everyone else and decide to go to bed. You will catch the bath tomorrow.
You will be surprised how much you put off when caring for others. What about your health (do you have medications you need; do you need rest periods or special diets)? You as the caregiver need to be aware of your own needs and wants and schedule those into your day.
Emotional and Mental Health: Being tired, isolated and plum exhausted can create both mental and emotional stress.
Example: You are in the middle of your day, you mother has been so confused and fighting with you verbally and physically all day. None of the normal things that calm her are working. You get her down for a nap then sit down on the couch, looking at the messy house. Feeling overwhelmed with the day which is only half over you begin crying. You are feeling beat down, by the way your mother has treated you. Stressed because you have no one to vent to, bounce thoughts off or just make you feel better.
You as the caregiver must know that you are not alone in these feelings. There is support in this world. Caregivers need to seek out forms of support and schedule this in their routines.
Your family: I know you are thinking WHAT this whole post has been about your family but let me explain. You are born into a family, you grow up in a family and then you start your own family. Once starting your own family, they will become your priority, not saying your “other family” is not still important they just are not a part of your daily life. Then the time comes for you to care for your mother, while taking care of your family. This is called the “Sandwich Generation”.
Example: You are married with 4 children, ages ranging between 5-20. Both you and your husband work, your mother has become sick and can no longer live alone. This is considered “sandwiched in “between caring for your family and caring for your mother.
You must now provide all aspects of life for your mother and your family. This can be a daunting task. You as the caregiver must live with a routine so that you can manage caring for everyone you love
These are just some aspects to be aware of when becoming a caregiver, either to your baby or your elderly parent. Follow by blog to learn tips and tricks to make care-giving a little easier and smooth. Please feel free to share your tips and tricks.