More than 34 million Americans provide family home health care for an aging loved one. There’s no doubt that intergenerational bonds are strengthened when elderly family members are cared for by adult children and relatives. However, family caregiving can be a stressful responsibility and when too much is taken on without assistance, it can lead to mental health issues that affect the caregiver’s health and wellness.
Statistics on Family Caregivers
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 96 percent of family caregivers help seniors with the activities required for daily living, such as shopping, transportation, dressing, personal hygiene, and monitoring health, finances and duties around the home.
The average age of a family caregiver for a senior is 49 years old, the right age for them to have demanding families of their own, as well as well-developed careers. The average number of hours per week that caregivers spend on elderly care that are older than 65 is just over 30, with seniors over 75 usually requiring nearly 35 hours per week.
It’s no wonder that family caregivers often feel overwhelmed and stressed at having to manage all the responsibilities they have. When high levels of stress go on for a long time, it can lead to mental health problems as well as physical problems.
Reducing Family Caregiver Stress
Many family caregivers manage to attend to all the tasks they have surrounding elderly care as well as their own lives. There’s no trick to finding the secret to success when it comes to taking on all the duties they have. It just requires a realistic look at everyone’s needs and desires—including their own.
Struggling and suffering with stress alone and in silence is never the right thing to do. There are a number of resources that those in charge of elderly care can access to lighten the load and reduce their stress levels.
Here are just a few things that family caregivers can do to ensure they are achieving a good balance between all their responsibilities:
Share tasks with other family members and friends of the elderly loved one.
Set up a schedule for everyone and be specific about assignments, days and times.
Prioritize tasks and duties so that the most important things are taken care of in every area, then move to the lower priority items.
Make self-care a priority with a healthy diet and exercise.
Look into hiring a home health care agency to provide regular and dependable assistance.
Learn to let go of the small frustrations and embrace joyful moments.
Use technology to minimize burdens, such as setting up doctor’s appointments, refilling prescriptions, grocery shopping or paying bills online.
Get professional help at the first sign of depression or other mental health issue.
Everyone is going to encounter periods of stress and frustration in their lives, and for those that are dedicated to some level of elderly care, it’s just one more potential source. However, when caregiving is approached with a well-balanced level of assistance and self-care, it can remain a loving and selfless activity that brings people closer together.