The number of people who are undertaking the task of caring for an elderly parent or loved one at home is on the rise; it’s an act of love that can be rewarding and comforting, yet difficult, frustrating, and demanding as well. It’s important that everyone who is or will be caring for the elderly at home recognizes some of the most common difficulties and challenges that in-home providers face both on a daily basis and sporadically throughout the care term. The best way to overcome these and other challenges begins with recognizing them:
1. Time management could be the single biggest and most widespread challenge of being an in-home care provider. Especially with today’s work schedules, travel demands, kids’ curricular and extra-curricular activities and more, finding the time to comprehensively provide care can be extremely difficult. According to a recent study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, over 50% of caregivers surveyed reported that providing in-home care has caused them to alter their schedules and sacrifice activities, hobbies, and even vacations. One way to ease the burden of time constraint is to have a team of family members take turns with “shifts”, if at all possible.
2. Financial strain is another big challenge for many people; the costs can quickly add up. The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that the average out-of-pocket costs for caregivers is about $5,500 annually. This number includes medications, medical supplies and daily living supplies, medical insurance co-pays, food, transportation, and more. Further financial strain may be realized as the caregiver makes work adjustments to accommodate his or her role, losing income and/or accrued benefits in the process. One way to help reduce costs is to purchase supplies at discount prices. These supplies might include adult briefs, slipper socks, hygiene products, and more.
3. Mental and physical stress can easily escalate as time passes when caring for an elderly loved one in-home. Caregivers may not realize when financial burden, balancing care with their careers, adjusting schedules, and traveling are taking a heavy toll. Stress, sadness, anxiety, physical exhaustion, and even physical injuries are common additional issues that many in-home health care providers must deal with, in addition to handling the actual care of their loved one. Providers must remember that it’s important to take care of themselves while they care for another in-home, although it’s easier said than done. Caregivers must be sure to eat nutritious meals, avoid isolation, call on community resources and online blogs for information and advice, and not be afraid to ask for help.
Although it’s easy for in-home caregivers to become overly-focused on the needs of the loved one for which they are caring, it’s vitally important that they recognize that they are not alone. Whether they are able to procure additional family members to help or not, the important thing to remember is that there are many professionals, online resources, community outreach programs, product websites, and more – all are available at any time to ease the stress and burden of providing in-home care for elderly loved ones. The key is to keep in mind that a provider who has neglected themselves will not be able to properly care for their loved ones; the old saying, “You can’t take care of someone if you can’t take care of yourself” rings true, and should be heeded in order to provide the very best care.