When you first agree to care for an older loved one, it can be hard to imagine how your new role might change your daily life. Like other responsibilities you take on, you surely believe in your abilities, but the day-to-day impact of caregiving is something you’ll have to discover as you go. However, most first-time caregivers feel much more prepared for the job ahead if they have an idea of what life will look like from now on.
This job extends beyond the category of chores or checklists – it becomes a new way of life for you and your family. Heather O’Banion, Executive Director at Village Manor, a senior living community in Bowling Green, KY, states that family caregivers experience the impact of caregiving differently than they do other jobs. “Especially if you’re caring for a parent or spouse,” she says, “facing their declining health involves a daily emotional toll that can put a strain on family caregivers more than professional ones. It doesn’t come as much surprise that caring for the health and well-being of another person affects almost every aspect of your life.”
Changes Caregiving Brings About
While everyone’s circumstances are different, senior living experts and social workers find that many family caregivers experience similar changes in their lives. A loved one with Alzheimer’s disease will require a different kind of care than someone who cannot walk on their own, but the act of providing care can still cause the same effects throughout various aspects of your life. Consider caregiving’s impact on:
Your family environment and atmosphere is likely to change as family members take on new responsibilities and caring for your loved one becomes a top priority. Especially if your loved one moves in with you, you and other family members in the house will need to adjust to a new home dynamic that includes your loved one and their limitations.
As your family shifts responsibilities, relationships may grow stronger and healthier, or they may experience a strain. If you are caring for a parent, the reversal of your roles can be unsettling for both of you. Be patient during this time of adjustment and understand that everyone, including the loved one needing care, is settling into new patterns.
Receiving care from a family member rather than a professional may save your loved one a significant amount of money, but it can have a great impact on your personal finances. Most adult children of parents who need care aren’t yet retired, and many choose to give up working in order to be a full-time caregiver. In addition, costs of transportation, medical supplies, occasional hired help or defraying medical bills add up as time goes on.
While many couples who find themselves in the roles of caregiver and recipient are retired and don’t need to be concerned with giving up employment to provide care, they can still experience financial strain if they are on a fixed income.
According to clinical and psychological research, caring for a family member can cause all of the features that make up a chronic stress experience, including ongoing mental and physical strain. If your loved one has diminishing health or if caregiving is extremely difficult, high levels of stress can wreak havoc on your physical health.
Fatigue, poor sleep schedules, poor diet, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and overall exhaustion are all common consequences of caregiver stress. Caregivers often neglect their own health, put off going to the doctor and seldom have the luxury to fully recover from an illness under the demands of caring for their loved one. Many caregivers also report experiencing more heart problems than those who aren’t caregivers.
Being a full-time caregiver will also affect you emotionally. In addition to the stress, many caregivers experience high anxiety and depression. They experience social isolation when caregiving becomes overwhelming and neglect their own emotional health and happiness in exchange for providing their loved one’s care.
Among all the ways caregiving can affect your life, this may be the effect that’s easiest to control. While bills have to be paid and errands must be run, you can choose how to respond to stress. Caregivers are often encouraged to join support groups with other caregivers to gain guidance and reassurance from others in the same circumstances.
Your Resource for Caregiver Support
If you ever find it hard to manage the challenges that caregiving brings, don’t hesitate to look for help. Local senior centers, agencies on aging and local senior living communities often have great sources of information on services that can make your life easier – and your loved one’s better.
“At Village Manor,” says O’Banion, “we’re committed to helping family caregivers as they provide the best care they can for their older loved ones. We offer a full calendar of educational events on a variety of topics relevant to caregivers of seniors. Our community is also home to a great team of senior living professionals who have the knowledge, experience and expertise to answer your most challenging questions and find solutions to your problems. We’re here to help you care for your loved one in every way we can!”
Welcome Home to Gracious Retirement Living at Its Best!
At Village Manor, we offer a lifestyle unlike any other, complete with all of the comforts and conveniences of apartment home and campus-style living. As Bowling Green’s only Continuing Care Retirement Community, we offer peace of mind to our residents and their families.
Village Manor is committed to a tradition of faith, care and family, and we live out our life’s work through everything for which these powerful words stand. Faith encourages us to never give up hope, allowing us to provide the best care in each situation. We are called to love our neighbors, seeking to meet every need and showing true support and friendship in all that we do. We’ve dedicated ourselves to a lifestyle of care, prioritizing our residents’ needs and comfort above anything else.
At Village Manor, we emphasize family. We consider it a privilege to take care of our residents as we would our own family members, and we are honored to be part of our residents’ family within our community.
Learn more today about living the retirement life you’ve always dreamed of. Contact us and begin the lifestyle you deserve.