Things were good. Mary had a good job. She could afford to keep her mother in her own home with the help of in-home care service. The caregiver spent a few hours every afternoon with her to make sure she took her medicine, received a good meal, and had someone to talk with to avoid her loneliness during the week.
Then things changed.
Mary lost her job and couldn’t find another one. To conserve funds, Mary moved her mother in with her and sold her mothers home. She took over caregiving 24 hours a day. And that’s when the real trouble began.
Being a caregiver is a difficult task – being a caregiver during hard times is that much more difficult. And in fact, a variety of things can begin to happen that put both the caregiver and the person receiving care at risk.
1. Not enough breaks – many caregivers do not get much time away from caregiving. They may feel it is their duty – or even punishment – for not being able to carry the full weight of the situation as they did before. They take on caregiving 24/7, and slowly begin to develop a depression that can spread to the person they are caring for.
2. Lack of money – many caregivers give up their jobs and financial security because they are needed by a loved one, making their lives even more difficult due to lack of money. If they lose a job and move in with their elderly loved one to conserve money, they soon develop a responsibility mentality which prevents them from returning to the job market – no one can care better than I – they begin to think. And that triggers a decreasing supply of financial security.
3. Having to deal with hard to handle patients – the downward spiral continues. The more a caregiver spends time with the person they are caring for, the more ill-willed feelings continue to build. Your loved one can feel your pain. And if they are already facing problems with dementia, they can relieve their stress by becoming more volatile.
4. No support, services and help – many caregivers have trouble finding the support system they need to help them with their role as a caregiver. They’ve taken on the role – its their burden. And if you don’t look for options, they won’t materialize to provide you with some relief.
5. No time for me – a lot of caregivers have no time for themselves. Their mental and physical health diminishes because they are giving their all to caring for someone else.
6. No time for other people – making time for friends and family is hard to do when you are someone’s primary caregiver. You spend so much time taking care of that person that you wind up neglecting your other relationships.
7. Feeling guilty – many caregivers deal with guilty feelings because there are times when they resent having to be a full time caregiver. This guilt can be overwhelming and can lead to depression.
8. Lack of family support – too many caregivers have other relatives that could help with the caregiving role, but instead, they choose to do everything themselves. “Nobody can do it better than me” becomes their mantra. And if family doesn’t push back and demand the caregiver take some time off, it quickly becomes a way of life.
9. Taking control of the parent – it can be hard for caregivers to take control of their aging parent or loved one. For example, telling your mom or dad they can no longer drive can quickly lead to an argument. While the situation may work when you have time apart, it can quickly grow into a huge problem when you spend 24/7 together.
10. Invasion of space – when a caregiver winds up having to move their loved one into their home, such as when they are caring for an aging parent, it winds up being yet another situation to become accustomed to. If it’s because of need due to financial situations, the resentment will be in place even before the move takes place. Make sure you look at the situation from every angle before you make the move.