Did you know that 49% of adults in the United States are caregivers for an elderly parent? Whether you take on this responsibility for a parent, family member, old friend, or neighbor, being a senior's primary caregiver comes with many rewards and challenges.
Not sure if this role is right for you? Keep reading to learn more about becoming a caregiver for your loved one, including the benefits and challenges to consider.
Common Caregiver Responsibilities
A caregiver takes care of a person who has difficulty with everyday tasks, such as shopping, cooking, taking medication, bathing, etc. However, these responsibilities vary from person to person. While a senior may only need help with shopping and cooking, another person may need assistance with getting out of bed and using the restroom. A caregiver is there to ensure someone lives a safe, happy, and healthy life. Often, a son or daughter takes over caregiving duties for an aging parent.
Get a rundown of the most common responsibilities for senior caregivers.
Benefits of Caregiving
While caregiving can be hard work, it can also be gratifying. Take a look at the advantages of caregiving below:
Fulfilling both mentally and emotionally
Caregiving can be very fulfilling, especially if you're caring for your parents. It offers a sense of purpose, as your loved one depends on you for their care. If you are willing and available to take on these important responsibilities, caregiving for a parent could be right for you.
But before jumping into a caregiving role, it’s essential to be prepared. Depending on what assistance your loved one needs, this job can be a lot of work. That said, you want to ensure you have enough time and that you’re well aware of what to expect. Talk to your loved one’s physician to get an idea of the care they need.
Better understanding of your loved one’s health
Many people who aren’t caregivers for their parents or loved ones may have challenges understanding this person's health. When you’re not the one seeing them every day and taking care of their needs, fully understanding their health can be difficult.
When you’re in charge of their care, you’ll most likely have a clear understanding of where their health stands, including ways to make improvements. This can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved one. Your parents may feel more comfortable being under their child's care.
Showing appreciation and love to someone who helped you
Another reward of becoming a caregiver for your parents involves giving back to the person who raised you. This person was there for you since day one, so it’s only fitting you’re there for them when they need assistance.
Being an aging senior is never easy, and your loved one needs your love and support. This can be a very uncomfortable and lonely experience for them, so it’s important to take care of their needs and keep them happy. Aside from cleaning, cooking, and handling other responsibilities, you’ll also be there as someone to socialize with.
Challenges of Caregiving
While caregiving for your loved one can be extremely rewarding, there are some challenges to consider. Take a look at a few of them below:
Stress & burnout
Being a caregiver can be extremely stressful. While trying to provide the best care possible for your loved one, you still have to manage everything else in life. Also, seeing your parents or loved ones in a fragile state can bring on feelings of stress. If you’re considering taking on caregiving responsibilities, make sure you factor in your needs for self-care in this position.
Furthermore, caregiver burnout is prevalent. Caregivers may work countless hours without a break, leading to fatigue, lack of sleep, and overwhelming amounts of stress. When caregivers get burnt out, they’re more likely to make mistakes or start to feel resentment toward the person they care for. If you decide to become a caregiver for a senior loved one, scheduling time for yourself will be critical to avoiding burnout.
Balancing caregiving with other responsibilities
Caregiving can be a very demanding job. Combining these duties with an already busy schedule can all be too much to handle. If you’re considering becoming a caregiver for your parents, make sure you’re ready to balance these duties with your other responsibilities.
How Assisted Living Can Help
If caregiving is not right for you and your loved one, there are other options out there. One of the best alternatives is having your loved one join an assisted living community. Not only will they be under the care of an experienced caregiver, but these communities also offer opportunities to make friends with other seniors. This can lead to a happy, fulfilling experience for your parents or loved one.