As a caregiver providing support to an aging parent, you helped dad get dressed to the nines. You cooked several meals for him today, and administered each round of scheduled medication. But you’re too exhausted to put on your own pajamas. Sound familiar?
Today more than 34 million Americans serve as family caregivers for adults 50 and older, according to the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. These caregivers spend an average of 24 hours a week providing caregiver support to a loved one, though nearly a quarter provide more than 40 hours a week.
Many caregivers find it tough to work full time and provide adequate care—but decreasing work hours often mean diminished take-home pay. It can be a maze, figuring out how to focus on your personal needs while also focusing on a loved one’s needs. But if you’re providing care for someone else, your well-being is vital. Here are some ways you can get support as a caregiver, now and in the future.
Talk about Family Medical Leave Act guidelines and public policies
Remember there are policies in place to help you balance your work schedule, while also providing the caregiving your parent needs.
Get caregiver support
Caregivers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their self-interests to care for another. They need structures in place to protect their interests while they provide care.
It’s not uncommon for primary caregivers to go years without a vacation. Half of caregivers report skipping or reducing vacations or social activities as a result of their responsibilities. But constant caregiving isn’t healthy for the caregiver because the stress of caregiving can lead to burnout and illness in the caregiver. More than 1 in 5 caregivers say the experience has hurt their health.