Here in Chicagoland and all across the country, millions of people serve as unpaid or informal caregivers to their aging loved ones. The average caregiver dedicates dozens of hours a week to their loved one, while often facing unexpected caregiving challenges along the way.
As Tia Walker, a writer and caregiving authority, once put it:
“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.”
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to face the challenges of caregiving alone. There are many resources that can help, including professional home care services.
Curious about how the caregiver in your life may benefit from reaching out for help? Let’s explore some all-too-common challenges that caregivers face — and how home care can help make a difference:
The Challenge: Experiencing Stress, Exhaustion, and Burnout
For many informal family caregivers, keeping up with the active responsibilities involved in providing care often means dealing with a high level of stress and exhaustion. Over time, this can lead to serious burnout, which can take a toll on your mental and physical health, including exacerbating chronic health conditions like heart disease.
In reports, many family caregivers say that they neglect their own health and well-being in order to care for their aging loved ones. Caregivers also tend to report high levels of depression and anxiety, which can manifest as anger, irritability, and impatience — making it harder to provide the high level of care they want to offer.
How Home Care Can Help:
Home care is also sometimes known as “respite care,” because it’s a powerful opportunity for family caregivers to get some well-deserved relief and relaxation, right when they need it most.
Whether for a few hours a week or on a daily basis, a professional caregiver can step in to provide the support your elderly loved one needs to live independently, while you get the chance to step away, refocus, and turn your attention to the other pressing things in your life, including work, family, and self-care.
Taking a step back is a powerful way to protect your own health and well-being — while also making sure that you can return to caregiving with clarity, focus, peace of mind, and a full battery, whenever the time is right.
The Challenge: Losing Sight of Personal Boundaries
It can be daunting to think about the prospect of taking care of the people who once took care of you. Many caregivers fear having to experience a “role reversal” with their aging loved ones. To cope, many caregivers devote themselves fully to their daily responsibilities without ever taking a step back to think about setting personal boundaries and limits for themselves.
Ultimately, setting healthy and productive boundaries can benefit caregivers and their senior loved ones, allowing them to maintain a relationship founded on love, respect, and affection — not just obligation or responsibility.
There is sometimes a tendency among caregivers to miss the forest for the trees. When in the thick of things, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re providing care, and stop looking for those positive little moments and memories that make it all worth it. Over time, this can make caregiving feel like a burden or a chore, which can then lead to intense feelings of guilt and shame on the part of the caregiver.
Similarly, many caregivers try to take on so much that it makes burnout all the more likely. Perhaps even worse, taking on too much at once can make it harder to keep up a loving, mutually enriching relationship with the senior. For example, a son or daughter who regularly helps their parents with intimate daily tasks like bathing and grooming may stop looking at their loved one as a parent, and more as a responsibility. This can be damaging and difficult, and may make it harder for the caregiver to truly encourage a senior’s independence and self-sufficiency.
How Home Care Can Help:
Home care can provide a little bit of distance and breathing room — making it easier for caregivers to step back, gain some clarity, and enjoy a healthier and more fulfilling relationship with their senior loved one.
A professional home care service can give caregivers more time to relax and unwind, giving them a chance to refill their mental and emotional batteries and return to caregiving with a renewed energy and a better perspective.
Just as importantly, a home care provider may be able to take on the caregiving responsibilities that you find toughest, such as helping with bathing and dressing or providing a hand with laundry and housekeeping. This way, you can focus your energy on the positive activities you enjoy most, such as sitting down and sharing a meal with your senior loved one.
The Challenge: Helping Seniors With Day-to-Day Activities
Sometimes, there just aren’t hours in the day. It can be tough for caregivers to provide the hands-on daily support and attention that a senior loved one needs, particularly when they may already be stretched thin by the pressures of working and taking care of kids of their own.
How Home Care Can Help:
Home care is meant to give caregivers the chance to breathe and put their focus where it needs to be, while resting assured that their senior loved ones are getting the personalized support they need to live safely and independently.
Whether you’re a long-distance caregiver who can’t be there in person as often as you’d like, or a busy member of the Sandwich Generation being pulled in too many directions at once, home care can provide the one-on-one support that your senior loved one needs to live a fulfilling and enriched life, including:
- Providing driving services to help the senior stay connected to their community, run errands, and make it to doctor’s appointments
- Assisting with food shopping and meal preparation
- Providing safe and discreet assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, and personal hygiene
- Lending a helping hand with activities of daily living, such as taking a walk or moving from room to room
- Offering medication reminders
- Helping the senior keep up with healthy activities, such as daily exercise or fitness routines
The Challenge: Making Time for Fun
Caregiving comes with its fair share of ups and downs, which can make it harder to be there to help your loved one cut loose, go on outings, and enjoy time out in their community. Many family caregivers are simply too busy with other important obligations to help make going out a high priority.
Similarly, many family caregivers who feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caregiving can make companionship and one-on-one time less of a priority — to the detriment of their loved one’s health and happiness.
How Home Care Can Help:
It’s hard to overstate the value of simply being present. Study after study has shown that seniors who are able to be a part of their community and maintain strong relationships experience better overall health and well-being — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Some prominent research has even suggested that being social can help significantly increase an adult’s longevity, while enriching and improving their quality of life along the way.
For busy family caregivers, being social can sometimes come second to providing essential care — and understandably so! Companion care is a great way to make sure that your senior loved one is getting the company they need to live a nourished and fulfilling life, while also receiving the hands-on support they need to live safely and independently at home.
Companion care is a home care philosophy based on the idea that social support and friendship are a key part of empowering seniors to live life to the fullest. It is all about empowering seniors to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Could your loved one benefit from personal attention and company from a friendly, trustworthy companion? There are all sorts of ways that a companion can provide invaluable social support to a senior, from sharing meals, to playing games, to giving them friendly company for a night out at the opera or a trip to a local botanical garden.
Want To Talk All Things Senior Care?
If you have any questions about caring for the older adult in your life, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Companions for Seniors! We’d be happy to field your questions or concerns, share our experiences, and talk over what it takes to care for your aging loved ones — while also safeguarding your own health and peace of mind as a family caregiver.
Ready to reach out for help? If you have a parent or relative that you believe could benefit from the assistance of a trained and knowledgeable caregiver, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the professionals at Companions for Seniors to discuss your situation.
We help provide seniors with a higher quality of life, while also offering respite and peace of mind for family caregivers who might need some support of their own.
We are locally owned in Chicago, with clients in the city and suburbs. All of our companions are trained and bonded, and can assist your loved one in many different ways. From one hour to 24 hours a day, we can be there for you and your loved one. We understand that every situation is unique, so we provide a personalized care plan that’s modified to meet each client’s specific needs. As a client’s situation changes, so does our plan of care. It’s quick and seamless to get started, and in most cases we can be up and running in just two days.
Have any questions about Companions for Seniors? Want to get in touch? Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or fill out our online contact form, available here.