A caregiver is a provider, friend, healer, assistant, and nurturer. Even on the best days, there is still a lot to juggle. But caregivers rise by lifting others.
Caregiving is a difficult task with many moving parts. Caregivers often have less time for activities like spending time with family and friends, chores, hobbies, or running errands. Those who maintain full-time or part-time employment may have difficulty maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Whether you are an in-home caregiver or a family caregiver, you understand that providing care for some requires a comprehensive skill set. That is why caring for your loved one, or other people can be challenging, yet they must receive the best care they need and deserve.
Five Common Caregiving Challenges and How To Overcome Them
In general, the challenges caregivers face can be daunting. They will quickly become overwhelmed if plans, precautions, and proactive measures are not aligned to combat the many emerging issues.
But fear not. Every problem throughout your caregiving journey has an equally powerful solution. Here are five (5) tips on how to navigate caregiver challenges and come out victorious.
1. Feeling Overwhelmed. This is the number one challenge caregivers may face daily, especially family caregivers. It may seem intuitive to assume every aspect of caregiving regardless of the challenge. Still, it is essential to remember that caregivers need support too. A possible remedy for family caregivers to consider is hiring an in-home caregiver, even if it is just for part-time help. The extra support will give family caregivers the respite they need to focus on providing quality care.
2. Unfamiliarity with a Health Condition. Even the most experienced caregivers can encounter an unfamiliar health condition.
. The first point of contact should be the client’s physician to obtain information and instructions how to provide care. In-home caregivers are encouraged to participate in webinars about the different types of health conditions their clients may have. If an in-home agency is involved, they can provide information and resources as well. Many caregivers quickly learn how to provide quality care for their clients even when they have not previously encountered a specific health condition. Continual learning and training are standardrequirements of the job for any caregiver. With the right skills and experience, in-home caregivers can be prepared for all conditions and situations.
3. Difficult Emotions. Providing quality in-home care services can take a toll personally, emotionally and physically.
. People receiving care generally are in vulnerable positions and trust their lives to the hands of their caregivers. This kind of responsibility and dealing with complex topics such as disabilities and hospice often includes difficult emotions for caregivers. Emotions such as frustration, grief, sadness, and anxiety are not uncommon. Even empathy can be complex to process when it leads to compassion fatigue. Caregivers are encouraged to practice self-care methods such as journaling and meditation to cope and utilize professional services such as counseling for skill building and encouragement.
4. Taking Things Personally. Caregivers have big hearts, and clients usually want to be liked by them. That is a worthy goal! However, some clients are very set in their ways and are not interested in making a new “friend.” Some clients may have difficult behaviors due to conditions like dementia. Caregivers should be honest and direct if a family member raises their voice or if a caregiver is blamed for something that goes wrong. Caregiving requires a soft heart but tough skin.
5. Physical Strain. Often, caregivers become so focused on caring for loved ones or clients that they forget to care for themselves. Simple things like proper posture can easily get overlooked. Some caregivers have tasks that include lifting, standing for long periods, or going up and down flights of stairs. It is essential to take short breaks throughout a shift to rest and stretch. Caregivers will also benefit from strength training, gentle cardio, stretching practices such as yoga, and learning how to lift and transport clients safely.
Being a caregiver requires endless amounts of energy, empathy, and patience. Caregiving is a time-consuming undertaking that can easily lead to burnout.
On the other hand, caregivers help people live their best lives, which is always something to smile about. Check out One Caregiver’s Journey by Eleanor Gaccetta; this book is a MUST-read if you are a caregiver or about to become a caregiver. This personal memoir will tug at your heart and make you laugh as the author shares her experiences providing 24/7 care to her mother for 9 ½ years until her mother’s death at age 102. The book is an easy read, honestly written, and provides suggestions and information that all caregivers can utilize. The author wrote the book over a long period, and it is a snapshot of the reality of the stages, changes, and many challenges caregivers face over time. It is a caregiver’s blueprint. Reading this book, you will feel you are in the author’s living room, and she is telling her story and offering an abundance of advice and information. It is easy for caregivers to overlook their well-being, but caring for yourself will help you and the one you care for.