Finding Balance - Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver

Caring for yourself as a caregiver for an older loved one is essential to maintain your well-being and the quality of care you provide. Finding a balance between caregiving duties and self-care can prevent burnout and ensure sustained support for your loved one.

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Finding Balance - Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver
4 Min Read September 7th, 2023

As the United States of Care notes, 53 million adults in the U.S. provide informal caregiving support for relatives and friends. The number of adult children caring for aging family members is increasing dramatically. While caregiving can be rewarding, it can also be overwhelming. Your physical and mental health must find a balance between caring for yourself and caring for your loved one. 

Adult children stepping into the role of caregivers for their parents often find themselves ensnared in a juggling act, attempting to balance the pressing demands of caregiving with their personal and professional responsibilities. While they intend to provide the best care possible for their aging parents, these caregivers frequently sideline their needs and desires. Personal time becomes a rare commodity, and moments meant for self-care or family engagements often fall by the wayside.

Furthermore, the strain of managing both a full-time job and the challenges of caregiving can leave these individuals stretched thin. The boundaries between work, family, and caregiving blur, leading to heightened stress and burnout. Essential tasks like parenting, managing household chores, and even self-care practices become secondary, as the immediate caregiving needs monopolize their attention. This demanding routine often means vital responsibilities and personal well-being are unintentionally overlooked.

If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, these simple things can make life for caregivers easier so they can tend to the caregiving role.

Hire Lawn Professionals 

Who has time to cut the grass in a normal situation? If you add the caregiver role, the number of "free hours" you have available is limited. Think about hiring a professional landscaping company. Many trustworthy local businesses provide regular mowing services at reasonable prices, whether you prefer them weekly or every other week. Should your yard appear lackluster, a lawn fertilization service might be the answer to rejuvenate it. Before settling on a company, take a moment to search online for local lawn fertilization services and peruse customer reviews. 

For those mindful of their budget, it's worth checking which companies currently offer promotions or discounts. If your loved ones' yard needs attention, you might get a discount for hiring them to do both. Be sure to ask; the worst they will say is "no."

Hire Professional Housekeepers 

Hiring a professional cleaning service could free up considerable time for your self-care. Most cleaning services have a range of schedules to choose from, including weekly, biweekly, and monthly. When deciding which plan is best for you, consider how large your home is. 

Again, don't forget your loved ones home. It might be beneficial to have a professional come in to clean their home as well as your own.

Tap Into Your Support Network 

Caregiving is an all-consuming role; its demands often intensify as our loved ones age. It's crucial to lean on your support system to ensure you also prioritize self-care. Perhaps a family member could spend an evening with your parents weekly. Alternatively, discussing shared financial contributions with siblings or close relatives for adult daycare or hiring an in-home caregiver for certain days might be beneficial. You may also find it helpful to join a support group for caregivers

Respite Care - Giving You 'Time’

Respite care is a vital tool for family caregivers, providing a much-needed break from the continuous demands of caring for a loved one. This service operates under the concept of giving temporary relief, allowing the primary caregiver to rest, recharge, or handle personal responsibilities. 

Two common forms of respite care include adult day care centers and in-home professional caregivers. Adult day care centers offer structured programs, activities, and supervision during the daytime, enabling caregivers to work, run errands, or simply take a breather. On the other hand, in-home professional caregivers come directly to the residence, ensuring that care routines are maintained in a familiar setting and making it possible for the primary caregiver to take a vacation or a short hiatus without concern.

Respite care isn't just a convenience; it's essential for maintaining the well-being of both the caregiver and the recipient. The occasional reprieve ensures that caregivers don't face burnout, providing them with opportunities to tend to their own health, socialize, or focus on other family responsibilities. Moreover, the change in routine and interaction with other professionals or peers can also be refreshing and stimulating for those receiving care. Utilizing these services ensures continuity in quality care while balancing the emotional and physical needs of the entire family unit.

Home health agencies can provide in-home care as needed as well. LTC NEWS has combined efforts with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home health care agency with locations throughout the country, to help you find quality care options. 

Ensure a Good Night's Rest

For caregivers, ensuring quality sleep is paramount to effectively tend to their loved ones. Insufficient rest can result in fatigue, heightened irritability, and deteriorating health.

Investing in a high-quality mattress, such as the best king size mattress, can make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep. A quality mattress should offer both support and comfort, aiding in quicker sleep onset and prolonged rest. Recognizing the significance of restorative sleep is vital, so consider investing in a superior mattress. This can be instrumental in ensuring you're well-rested and prepared to fulfill your caregiving responsibilities optimally.

Take Walks with Your Senior Loved One 

The Mental Health Foundation explains that getting outside provides numerous benefits for you and your loved one. Choose even ground (like a sidewalk or asphalt path) that you can push a wheelchair on if your loved one has mobility issues. Aim for a short walk daily, even for only five or 10 minutes. You will feel happier, more energized, and have clearer minds. 

Pursue Your Goal of a College Degree or Advanced Degree

When caring for an older adult, you may have some downtime, a time when you need to be there and supervise, but your loved one is either napping or content watching TV. 

This extra time can be used to advance your education. In fact, using this time to pursue an online degree can be an excellent strategy for advancing your career when this stage of your life is done. For example, if you love working with kids, this is a good option to check out, as it will allow you to work with young children or become the foundation for a teaching credential. However, many other online degree programs are available, including advanced degree programs, which may fit your interests. 

Start Journaling

Sometimes, you may not feel like talking to anyone about the struggles of caregiving and your general life. However, writing down what you're most grateful for each day could help you have a more positive mindset and reduce stress. Try taking five or 10 minutes at the end of each day to focus on your gratitude

Engage in Healthier Habits 

Incorporating regular physical activity, such as daily walks or yoga sessions, can alleviate caregivers' stress and enhance overall vitality. Proper nutrition is equally critical; consuming a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains ensures the caregiver has the necessary energy and nutrients to face the day's challenges.

Moreover, mental well-being is an indispensable aspect of a caregiver's health. Establishing routines with relaxation techniques, like meditation or deep-breathing exercises, can foster mental clarity and resilience. 

Regular health check-ups, getting adequate sleep, and seeking support groups or counseling can also make a significant difference. By nurturing their own well-being, caregivers ensure their own longevity and offer the best care to those they look after.

Find a Balance Between Caregiving and Self-Care

Being a caregiver is a rewarding experience that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Finding a balance between caregiving and self-care can help keep you mentally and physically strong through this journey. 

Striking a harmonious balance between caregiving and self-care is paramount for sustaining physical and emotional resilience. When caregivers intentionally set aside time for their well-being, they recharge and rejuvenate, ensuring they can continue providing compassionate care with renewed energy and patience. 

Furthermore, a well-rested and mentally present caregiver offers more effective support, creating a positive and nurturing environment for the care recipient. Ultimately, this symbiotic relationship underscores the adage that one cannot pour from an empty cup; by prioritizing self-care, caregivers enhance the quality of care they deliver, benefitting both themselves and those they cherish.

Will Your Family Have Time to Remain Family?

While deeply rewarding, caregiving can also be a stark reminder of our own inevitable aging journey. As caregivers navigate the complexities and challenges of supporting a loved one, they often gain firsthand experience of the emotional and financial toll long-term care can exert. 

This personal connection to caregiving emphasizes the importance of looking ahead and planning for one's future long-term care needs.

Consider this: would you want your children to shoulder the same caregiving responsibilities you're managing now? 

The roles might reverse, with your children juggling their personal and professional lives alongside the demanding task of caregiving. This could strain the special bond shared between parent and child. Instead of solely being a source of emotional and familial support, children could find themselves wrapped up in the logistics, emotional strain, and daily grind of caregiving.

To avoid placing such burdens on your children and to allow them to remain loving, supportive family members rather than primary caregivers, obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance is a prudent choice. This insurance provides a guaranteed tax-free resource that can cover the escalating costs associated with long-term care. 

More importantly, LTC Insurance provides flexibility in care options. Whether one desires in-home care or specialized facility care, having a policy in place ensures that the necessary funds are available without depleting personal savings or relying on family members to foot the bill.

By proactively securing Long-Term Care Insurance, you're safeguarding your future well-being and ensuring that your children can enjoy their time with you as family, reminiscing over cherished memories and creating new ones. 

The ideal time to consider this protective measure is well before retirement. Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s as part of a comprehensive retirement plan. By planning ahead, you'll have peace of mind knowing that when the time comes, you and your family will be emotionally and financially prepared.

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About the Author

Marie is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed a website to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources.

LTC News Contributor Marie Villeza

Marie Villeza

Contributor since June 22nd, 2017

Editor's Note

Long-term care planning is essential in ensuring a comfortable and secure future, particularly as we age. Opting for Long-Term Care Insurance plays a pivotal role in this process, offering you multiple benefits that enhance the quality of life for you and your family.

  • Choice of Quality Care: One of the foremost benefits of an LTC policy is the choice it provides. Instead of being limited by financial constraints, as a policyholder, you will have the flexibility to select from various care options that best suit your needs, whether in-home care, assisted living, adult day care, or a specialized nursing facility. Such a choice ensures that you receive care in the most comfortable environment, which can significantly enhance your well-being during your golden years.
  • Asset Protection: As the costs of long-term care services rise, these expenses can quickly deplete the savings and assets you accumulate over a lifetime. Without LTC Insurance, you might find yourself liquidating assets, selling properties, or tapping into retirement funds to pay for care. However, with an LTC policy, many of these costs are covered, ensuring that your hard-earned assets are preserved for your lifestyle, future generations, or other purposes.
  • Easing Family Stress and Burden: Watching a loved one age and require care can be emotionally taxing. Without a plan in place, family members often bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities, leading to physical, emotional, and financial stress. Balancing their personal lives with the demands of caregiving can strain relationships and lead to caregiver burnout. 

LTC Insurance alleviates this stress by covering the costs of professional care services. Knowing that you are getting quality care, your family can enjoy quality time with you without the constant worry of care responsibilities or looming financial strains.

Keep in mind that your fairly good health allows you to plan. You cannot wait until you are much older or have failing health or mobility issues to get coverage. Every insurance company has its own specific underwriting rules to consider your eligibility to obtain an LTC policy. 

The ideal time to get an LTC policy is when you are in your 40s or 50s; however, people successfully get coverage in their 60s and 70s. 

Maximizing Expertise: Consult an Experienced Independent LTC Insurance Specialist

Navigating the intricacies of Long-Term Care Insurance policies can be daunting, given the multitude of policy options and insurers. Engaging an independent Long-Term Care Insurance specialist, preferably one with a Certification for Long-Term Care (CLTC) designation, can be invaluable in such circumstances.

These professionals possess extensive knowledge and expertise to guide you in choosing a policy that aligns with your needs and financial capacity. They can provide accurate quotes from leading companies due to their experience and training. This differentiates a specialist from other financial professionals like general insurance agents, insurance company captive agents, and financial advisors. 

A CLTC-certified specialist has completed rigorous training focused on long-term health care planning. They are well-versed in the nuances of these insurance policies, the underwriting norms of different companies, and the regulations governing these policies at both the federal and state levels.

Their specialized knowledge enables them to help design a policy tailored to your specific needs. Moreover, they can align your age, health status, and family medical history with an insurer that offers the most comprehensive coverage at the most affordable rate. This matching process is pivotal, given the variation in underwriting guidelines and premium rates across insurers.

LTC NEWS: Your Central Source for Comprehensive Information 

We're delighted to have you here at LTC NEWS! In addition to a wide selection of articles on aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, long-term care, and retirement planning, we provide various tools and resources. Our goal is to offer educational content and guidance to assist you on your journey toward effective long-term care planning.

Here are some of the resources that are available on LTC NEWS:

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