By Dawn Sheldon, MSN, RN
Caregiving for another person is rewarding—but can also be exhausting and underappreciated work. Caregivers spend their time caring for family members, friends, or clients.
All too often, caregivers care so much for the well-being of the person they care for that they forget to care for themselves. They may lack the time, resources, or feel guilty caring for themselves. This causes a strain on the caregiver, known as caregiver role strain.
Signs of Caregiver Role Strain
Caregiver role strain may include the following factors (source: UW Health):
- Stress by the burden of caring for another person
- Care tasks consume a lot of time
- Being physically and emotionally taxed
- Becoming financially burdened
- Feeling a sense of overwhelm
If you notice yourself regretting the responsibility of caring for another person, wondering how you will pay for your own needs, experiencing physical pain, or feelings of sadness, guilt, and resentment, you may be experiencing caregiver role strain.
Minimizing the Risk of Caregiver Role Strain
Know this: It is OK to take time for yourself. You have permission to care for yourself!
Recognize that the person you care for would not receive care if you are sick or hurt.
Take a day off. You can do this by having back-up people who are able to work in your absence. You need to use the PTO, sick time, and vacation time your employer offers. The day off can be used to enjoy a favorite activity or simply rest. The key is to keep the focus on only your wants/needs for that day.
But rest doesn’t have to mean time off. When working with the care recipient, a caregiver can do little things for themselves as well.
4 Tips for Caring for Yourself
Tip #1: Practice good body mechanics when lifting and moving people or things.
Tip #2: Take deep breaths several times throughout the day. Taking deep breaths has been shown to decrease heart rate and minimize stress.
Tip #3: When your recipient of care is eating, you should eat as well.
Tip #4: Take breaks in your day. Taking a break will give your body an opportunity to relax and restore itself. When the recipient is sitting, take a moment to sit with them.
Overcoming the Financial Burden of Caregiving
Not all caregivers are being paid for their time. Giving care sometimes requires a caregiver to cut back on hours for their paying job, resulting in a lower paycheck.
Such caregivers can apply to be Personal Care Assistants (PCA) or a Direct Support Professional (DSP). If the recipient is eligible to receive care, the caregiver may be eligible to be the PCA or DSP and receive payment for providing care tasks. The staff at Best Care can help with these questions.
You may have taken a second job, which can cause you to become overworked. Working with a budget can also be helpful. Resources available in the community include finance classes, financial assistance, housing assistance, money management courses, food assistance, and more.
The key step to addressing caregiver role strain is to ask for help. You must acknowledge that you need a break – and take that break. Use best practices when caring for someone, and utilize available resources. This change in thinking and in practice can minimize the stressors of caring for another person.
Contact Best Care to see how we take care of our family caregivers!