Transitioning from Family Caregiver to Home Caregiver: When to Ask for Help
When you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member or a family member who has a disability or illness, it can often be difficult to determine when the time has come to ask for outside help. We all want to provide the very best for our loved ones but being the sole caregiver day after day can be demanding. No one wants to say their loved ones have become a burden but the reality is that the demands on one's time and energy can result in damaged relationships, declines in the caregiver's own health, and extreme frustration. In some cases, it can even lead to abuse. If you are responsible for the daily needs of a family member, it is important to understand the signs of caregiver fatigue and to know when it is necessary to ask for help.
Sign 1: Exhaustion
When you ask anyone who takes care of a family member what they need the most, they almost all start out with the words, "I need some sleep". Let's be honest, life is tiring as it is between work, school, family and social obligations. Providing care on a full time basis to a loved one in a home caregiving scenario adds a whole other level of daily workouts, both physically and mentally. When you start feeling tired all of the time, it is your body sending you the message that something needs to change.
Sign 2: Depression
When you are already exhausted and you’re doing your best but nothing seems to be working, it can be depressing. You haven't seen your friends or watched your kid's baseball practice in weeks because you've been busy caring for Mom. You have done everything the doctor said but her condition isn't improving and you feel responsible even though you don't know what you did wrong and everyone says you are doing such a wonderful job. This type of stress can lead to depression. Symptoms of depression tend to only get worse unless you take action and get someone to help with the home care needs of your loved one.
Sign 3: Stress
Being stretched in so many different directions at once can get to anyone. You have obligations to your friend and family. You still have to work and pay your bills. You need time for self-care. Yet, you're often too busy to do all of those things because you are providing the at home care your loved one requires. As exhaustion and depression escalate, you begin to wonder how long you can keep going like this. Then, you begin to worry about what will happen when you can't do it anymore and if you are really doing your best. Especially in situations where you are the primary caregiver, the stress of dealing with everything that must be handled lands squarely on your shoulders.
Sign 4: Frustration
Frustration is the point where things start getting dangerous. A frustrated individual may be provoked into doing something they would never dream of doing under normal circumstances. If you are finding that you have an increasingly short temper, are snapping at loved ones, and are saying things out of anger, then it may be time to ask for help from a professional home caregiver so that you can give yourself time to be grounded and calm. Sometimes all the demands on you can be overwhelming and you snap, leading to more depression, stress, and frustration.
Sign 5: Declines In Your Own Health
As the other four signs of caregiver fatigue pile up, you start to notice something else. You can't quite put your finger on it but you just don't feel quite right. Maybe it's elevated blood pressure or an ulcer brought on by all of the stress in your life? Maybe it's problems with your blood sugar because you can't take the time to sit down to a proper meal anymore? Maybe you’re noticing weight changes and other signs of illness but you can't take the time to go get them checked out because your schedule is already full so you end up putting things off until a little problem becomes a big health issue.
These signs sound scary because they are. Caregiver fatigue can have a major effect on an individual’s health, family, and relationships if left unchecked. Fortunately, there is a solution that can help reduce or completely eliminate caregiver fatigue. That solution is seeking the service of a professional home caregiver.
Benefits of Hiring a Home Caregiver
When you recognize the signs of caregiver fatigue, it is important that you seek help. By hiring a professional home caregiver to assist you in meeting your loved one’s needs, you are really doing a favor for both you and your loved ones. You will quickly notice that the level of personal stress you feel is lowered as the home care team works together to ensure smooth daily operations in the care and happiness of your loved one.
In addition, utilizing the services of a home caregiving team free up your schedule so you can spend more time enjoying your family and friends, taking care of your own personal needs and living life. As the constraints on your time and energy are alleviated, you will notice that your level of exhaustion will improve and you will start having more quality interaction with your loved ones, instead of stressful battles just to survive the day.