Caregiving can be a 24-hours a day/7-days a week job. Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or a child with special needs can be non-stop.
Providing care around the clock can crowd out other important areas of life. And you never know when you will need to rush to the hospital or leave work at the drop of a hat. What challenges do family caregivers face, and how do they manage them day and night?
Morning: Getting off to work. The average family caregiver is a working mother of school-
aged children. Mornings become a tricky balancing act of getting the kids ready for school, making sure your loved one has what they need for the day before getting yourself out the door for work.
All Day Long: Managing medications. Up to 70% of the time, the family caregiver – not the patient – manages the medications. The more serious the condition, the more likely it is that the family caregiver manages the medications for the patient. This means ensuring your loved one is taking their medication correctly and maintaining an up-to-date medication list.
During the Workday: Juggling caregiving and work. Six out of 10 family caregivers work full- or part-time in addition to juggling their caregiving responsibilities at home. And most of them say they have to cut back on working hours, take a leave of absence, or quit their job entirely.
Evening: Family time and meal time. Ensuring that you get proper nutrition will help you maintain strength, energy, stamina, and a positive attitude. Nutrition is as important for you as the caregiver as it for your loved one. Caregiving affects the whole family.
Late at Night: Taking time for yourself. Late at night might be the only time you get a few minutes for yourself. Make sure you take time to rest and recharge. The chance to take a breather and re-energize is vital in order for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you were today.
The Middle of the Night: Emergency room visits. Have you ever had to take your loved one to the emergency room in the middle of the night? Be prepared ahead of time with what you need to know and what you need to have with you.
10 Tips for Family Caregivers
1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone.
2. Take care of your own health so you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
4. Learn how to effectively communicate with doctors.
5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
6. Watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.
7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
8. Organize medical information so that it’s up to date and easy to find.
9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is.
For excellent resources to help you if you are the family caregiver, go to caregiveraction.org