According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are over 44 million unpaid caregivers taking care of elders or someone with disabilities. Statistics show that the majority of care is provided by a family member with the primary caregiver being the youngest unmarried daughter or the oldest son. The closer the child lives to their parent, the more likely they are to become responsible for their parent’s welfare. If there are no local family members, friends often become caregivers. The path to becoming a caregiver can be slow with the caregiver gradually taking on more and more of the responsibility of caring for a parent as they age, or it can be sudden if a parent has a health crisis or suddenly becomes incapacitated. In both cases, neither the parent nor their child realizes there is a caregiver relationship going on. The ongoing care is basically born from a desire to keep a loved one safe and to provide the best care possible.
Very often, it’s not until the caregiver starts developing “symptoms” that they realize they are fully engulfed in their role as caregiver and are in fact dealing with the stress of that role. Some of the symptoms of caregiver stress include anger, fatigue, poor sleep or health, irritability, and depression. The caregiver may feel hopeless, thinking there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and may in fact want to avoid their loved one. If you are losing yourself to the job of caregiving, it may be time to say “no”. Even though you may be overwhelmed, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. After all, you’ve come to believe that only you can do the best for your parent. In fact, that’s not true. You need to realize and accept that you can’t fix everything that is wrong and there are limits to what you can do. Becoming a martyr helps no one. Your role as a primary caregiver is critical enough that your poor health will surely put your elder at risk also. It’s important to decide what’s reasonable for you to do and to assess other aspects of your personal life and see where your role as caregiver fits in. Set boundaries for your role and get help before you reach a breaking point. Getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a caregiver or left a parent to fend for themselves. It just means that something has to change so that you can continue to be useful to the one you love. Have you had to say “no” as a caregiver? Please share your thoughts below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com.