Family Caregivers: Roles, Responsibilities, and When to Ask for Help
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, about 19% of adults in the United States currently provide care to a loved one with health or functional needs, about 24% of whom care for more than one person.
If you, like many, have found yourself increasingly filling the role of a caregiver, this article will help answer some of the questions you may have about responsibilities, stress-relief methods, and when to ask a professional for help.
What to expect as a caregiver
Your responsibilities will be unique to the family member in need. For example, some seniors can cook and clean, but can’t live alone due to health or mental challenges. Others may need a hand bathing, getting dressed, or using the bathroom.
As a caregiver, you need to assess what your loved one can do comfortably. Learn as much as possible about their illnesses or special needs to develop appropriate care strategies that also maintain balance in your own life.
Is being a family caregiver stressful?
When a family’s needs change, it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions. It may be difficult and stressful adjusting to the caregiver lifestyle. HelpGuide provides resources to help you cope with the anxiety, anger, guilt, or grief associated with being a caregiver.
Another common issue is burnout. Some caregivers have little issue helping their family members, but have difficulty nonetheless fitting everything into a day. The added responsibilities can leave them with less downtime than usual, affecting their health and well-being.
To reduce stress and avoid burnout, it is important to assess and address your own needs. While you may be spending more time at home with your loved one, maintaining your social network and a healthy lifestyle is crucial. If you find yourself feeling overworked, reach out to other family members or local support groups for help.
When to ask for help
According to WebMD, roughly four in ten people caring for a loved one with dementia are the only caregiver. Under pressure or racked with guilt, they seldom reach out for help, not knowing what resources are available to them.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. With a support network, you can better care for your loved one while preserving your own well-being.
Some support resources to consider:
- Doctors or medical professionals – If your loved one has an illness or disability, talk to their doctor about some of the challenges it can present and ways to overcome them.
- Friends – A strong emotional support network is always helpful. Try to connect with any friends who have been or are caregivers as well.
- Support groups – Online support groups can be a great way to build a network and find local resources. Active support groups on social media are great for finding answers to your questions.
- Home care professionals – Home care services can give you a break while keeping your loved one comfortable. These professionals have the tools and skills to effectively care for your loved one and may be able to provide you with additional tips or support.
- Assisted-living facilities – If your loved one is struggling at home or needs more advanced daily care, consider contacting an assisted-living facility for help choosing your best course of action.
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