Deciding to become a caregiver sometimes doesn’t happen by choice. You may be thrust into the role due to a loved one’s illness or injury or because you are the only one available to provide care. Here are some common challenges caregivers face and tips on how to deal with them:
1. Time management
Since you’re now responsible for another person’s care, you might have to rearrange your work schedule, social engagements, and other activities. You might feel like you have less free time. Taking care of a sick or disabled person can be time-consuming and exhausting. To make things manageable, try to:
- Create a daily or weekly schedule and stick to it as much as possible
- Delegate tasks to other family members and friends
- Hire outside help, if possible
There are many resources for caregivers that can enlighten you on your responsibilities and connect you with other caregivers to find helpful tips.
2. Emotional stress
Caring for a sick or disabled person can be emotionally demanding. You’ll at times feel angry, resentful, guilty, or helpless. You might also experience grief, even if the person you’re caring for isn’t terminally ill.
Find ways to cope with your emotions by talking about your feelings with someone you trust. In addition, join a support group for caregivers. Every day, do something for yourself that you enjoy, such as reading, gardening, or going for a walk.
3. Financial stress
Providing care can be expensive. You might have to quit your job or reduce the hours to care for a loved one. It can lead to a loss of income and benefits. Sometimes, you might have to pay out of pocket for caregiving expenses, such as medical supplies and equipment. To ease financial stress, try to:
- Create a budget and track your spending
- Look into government assistance programs and other financial resources for caregivers
- Get help with caregiving from family members and friends
4. Caregiver burnout
Caregiving can be draining, and it’s easy to get burned out. You might feel angry, resentful, depressed, and you might also neglect your health. To prevent caregiver burnout, set boundaries with the person you’re caring for.
Make time for yourself every day and ask for help when you need it. Don’t neglect your physical and emotional needs, and call a caregiver hotline or seek counseling if you’re overwhelmed.
5. Conflict with family members
You might disagree with other family members involved in the caregiving. It can lead to arguments and hard feelings. You might quarrel about the best way to care for the person, how to spend money, or what kind of help to hire.
Openly communicate with other family members about your feelings and concerns. Work together to establish rules and boundaries. If you can’t resolve the conflict, seek counseling or mediation.
As a caregiver, you’ll encounter different challenges every day. Some days will be better than others, but focusing on taking care of yourself will help you get through the tough times. Remember to build a support system of family, friends, and other caregivers. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.