Do you understand the complexities of being a family caregiver to an aging parent or other loved one? Most people don’t. In fact, the majority of family caregivers simply have no idea how difficult this job is going to be.
They simply realize it is a job they are going to take on. They either do it out of a sense of responsibility, feelings of guilt, or because they are located not far away from this aging senior in their family.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, or even a disabled adult child who needs support; being a family caregiver is going to cause stress in your life.
You may not realize it at the moment you sign up for this, but eventually that stress is going to impact your life, your family, and your life as a caregiver. Let’s look at three ways that could happen.
You will likely get less sleep.
Even if you don’t have a job right now, being a family caregiver will take up more and more of your time. At first, it might be your free time. Then, it might be time you devoted to your spouse, raising teenage children, spending with friends, pursuing hobbies, focusing on your artistic endeavors, or whatever it happens to be.
The more people tend to receive help, especially when they are struggling with chronic health issues, physical challenges, or other factors, the easier life becomes. As a result, they often call for more and more assistance, which means you will be tasked with supporting them more frequently.
That means less sleep.
On top of your time commitments getting greater and greater, you will also begin to worry more and more that you forgot about something, what happened to the senior at home when you left, and so forth. Those thoughts are going to keep you up at night far more frequently the longer this goes on.
You will be more unfocused at work.
If this is just a regular job and you don’t really care about it, fine. But, for most people in their 40s or 50s (the average age of the family caregiver), you probably have a career you want to continue building.
But, when you get less sleep, are more stressed and worried, you will be more unfocused, usually at the worst times. When that happens at work, it could put your entire job — your career — in jeopardy.
Finally, you could be getting into arguments more frequently.
If you are normally a levelheaded person who doesn’t argue often with anybody, that may be completely different in the months after you start acting as a family caregiver.
When the stress builds, it needs an outlet. Some people find that outlet in exercise, movies, or other activities. Some try to pack it in and ignore it, but eventually they’ll get frustrated.
If you find yourself snapping at your spouse, friends, coworkers, the senior who depends on you, or you are simply arguing more frequently, look to the stress caused by your caregiver responsibilities.
There is an option, though. It’s called home care. Look into it and find a way to relieve the stress from your life so it doesn’t negatively impact every other aspect of it.