It may be something at the back of our minds, but it isn’t something normally discussed or acknowledged: becoming a caregiver for someone you love. Circumstances can change slowly or suddenly. With the advances in medical treatments and the increase in life expectancies, there is also an increase in chronic illnesses and those living with disabilities. Your loved one’s difficulties may increase gradually until they require additional care they are unable to provide themselves, or a sudden incident can change things for you and your loved one drastically.
Rarely are people prepared to become caregivers. Yet, as loved ones age, it becomes more and more of a reality for younger members of the family. This unexpected position of being a caregiver can be overwhelming for many and many do not have the formal training to feel they can confidently handle this role. No matter how you became a primary caregiver, this can be a challenging and stressful time for everyone involved. However, with the right support system and guidance, this new position weighs less heavily on many people.
We are seeing more and more people providing senior in-home care for ill or aging parents or loved ones. This sometimes sudden need to rely on their children as caregivers can cause more than just a shift in their relationship. Where the children previously looked to their parents for guidance, they find themselves now filling a more paternal role for mom and dad—in charge of financial affairs, medical treatments, transportation, and more. Unfortunately, when you become an unexpected caregiver, you have no training, no checklists, and likely no idea of where to begin.
Caring for your loved ones is more than simply organizing the legal documents and health care needs.
Stepping into this role, especially when it comes on suddenly without warning, comes with a whole host of challenges and emotions. In order to fully accept this role and all that comes with it, you first must accept and validate your feelings. The Family Caregiver Alliance will tell you “all of your emotions, good and bad, about caregiving are not only allowed, but valid and important.” It is not at all uncommon for new or inexperienced caregivers to feel anger, anxiety, guilt, grief, loneliness, and depression even if they chose the position of caregiver. In fact, about 25-50% of caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.
If you have these feelings, they are entirely normal. They don’t mean that you’re an unfit caregiver or that you don’t love the person you’re caring for. Know that you are not alone and you are not the only person who has felt the way that you do.
As much as we might like to think of ourselves as invincible, know that it is normal to feel like you can’t do everything on your own. Many times when people try to be the superhero in the caregiving scenario, the feelings mentioned previously compound on top of one another and burn out occurs. Finding balance as a caregiver is extremely important. Too often, caregivers put the needs of their family members ahead of their own, sometimes to the detriment of their own health. Caregiver burnout can affect your ability to care for your loved one and yourself.
The best thing you can do as a caregiver is practice self-care and seek out the support of others. This can look like a support group for caregivers like yourself, asking friends and loved ones for help, or looking into continuing care retirement communities that can help you balance caregiving with self-care.
Life Plan communities, also known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), can allow your loved ones to maintain autonomy while still getting the care and support they need. These communities can take a lot of the stress off the caregiver and give them a reliable support system. Homestead Village is a Life Plan community that “allows friends and family to remain friends and family” and not simply act as caregivers.
Homestead Village is a top-rated community for adults over 62 years old. We provide older adults with the care, support, and lifestyle they need to thrive. In fact, we introduced the “THRIVE WHERE YOU ARE®” initiative in 2017. Our 90-acre campus provides safe housing options, life enrichment programs, and access to all the things your loved ones need to continue living a happy and healthy life.
Our residents participate in a variety of social events and volunteer opportunities. They also have access to on-site health care which is available 24-hours a day. Did you know that family, or friends, are responsible for the transportation of older relatives to 1.4 billion health care visits each year? That is why we also provide complimentary transportation to all doctor appointments within a 5-mile radius.
Becoming a distant caregiver to a resident of a Life Plan community, like Homestead Village, benefits you, your loved one, and the cherished relationship between the two of you. There is no problem in recognizing you need additional help with your older family members. And, you know they are in a safe and caring environment with professionals who are specifically trained to meet their needs.
There are plenty of ways for you to stay connected with family members living at Homestead Village. Our campus has no shortage of amenities residents can share with their guests. Residents often entertain family members in their on-campus homes and other spaces around campus. Our life enrichment programs provide fun and entertainment for residents as well as their guests, creating an environment where those living at Homestead Village can create deeper, more meaningful connections with friends and family. Along with that, residents and their families and friends have access to the abundance of entertainment that Lancaster, PA has to offer.
Interested in learning more about how Homestead Village can become your support system throughout the caregiving process? Call us at 717-923-5459 or contact us for a care consultation.
What is the first thing I should do if I suddenly become a caregiver?
In order to fully accept this role and all that comes with it, you first must accept and validate your feelings.
Is it normal to feel stressed as a caregiver?
As much as we might like to think of ourselves as invincible, know that it is normal to feel like you can’t do everything on your own.
Who can help me as a caregiver?
Life Plan communities, also known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), can allow your loved ones to maintain autonomy while still getting the care and support they need.