Caregiving for Family: What You May Not Expect

Caregiving for Family: What You May Not Expect

March 18, 2024

When it comes to providing care for an elderly or disabled family member, loved ones often feel obligated to take on the responsibility. After all, who could provide better care than someone who loves them unconditionally? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. While loved ones can provide a great deal of support and compassion, there are times when they are not the best option for providing care.

The Emotional Toll of Caregiving

Caring for an elderly or disabled family member can be an emotionally taxing experience. Watching a loved one decline in health or suffer from a chronic illness can be heartbreaking. It can also be difficult to remain patient and understanding when a loved one is struggling with memory loss or other age-related issues. For those who are already struggling with their own emotional burdens, providing care can be an overwhelming experience.

What Caregivers May Not Expect

It is important to incorporate expectations and know that even the most loving intentions can backfire. Sometimes, in a family member’s effort to do good, they often end up feeling underappreciated, frustrated, and exhausted (depending on the relationship they have with the person they are caring for – and/or that person’s level of expressive appreciation). These feelings can cause a strain on their relationship and can even lead to resentment.

Frustrated caregiver and her elderly grandmother

On the flip side, the person in need of care may change their attitude toward the family caregiver. Unintentionally, the person in need can sometimes become demanding towards their caretaker. They begin to instill guilt when the family caretaker is not available every time they need assistance, and they grow to have higher expectations from them.

The Often-Overlooked Perspective of the Cared For

When we think of being a caregiver to our loved one, we think about assistance with meals, assistance with transfers, and the upkeep of the home. Unfortunately, people tend to overlook the fact that incontinence may be an issue. In this case, family members are putting themselves in what is often a very uncomfortable situation. Not only is it uncomfortable for the caregiver, depending on their relationship to the individual, but it is also uncomfortable for the person that needs the care. People often feel a lack of dignity when they have to rely on the people they love to clean them in particularly private areas during very embarrassing times.

The Physical and Financial Burden

Providing care for a loved one can also be a physically and financially demanding task. Depending on the level of care needed, it may be necessary to make changes to the home or hire additional help. This can be a strain on both the caregiver and the family budget. In addition, providing care can be physically demanding. It can be difficult to lift a loved one or provide assistance with activities of daily living.

Exhausted caregiver falling asleep at her desk at work

Medicaid-funded assisted living may be available; it’s important to take the time to find out what options and programs can help fulfill a loved one’s needs without causing a strain on the family.

The Need for Professional Care

In some cases, professional care may be necessary to ensure that a loved one’s needs are met. Professional caregivers are trained to provide the appropriate level of care and can help ensure that a loved one’s health and safety needs are addressed. They can also provide support and assistance with activities of daily living and help to ensure that a loved one is comfortable and well cared for.

For those living with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory care issues, professional help may be critical. Such needs can go far beyond assistance with daily tasks, and someone facing worsening symptoms may actually thrive in an environment especially designed to care for them. Memory care assisted living can provide an active, socially connected environment that turns a declining situation into a thriving one.

Finding the Right Balance

Loved ones can still play an important role in providing care for an elderly or disabled family member – even from a distance! They can provide emotional support and companionship, as well as assistance with activities of daily living. However, it is important to remember that professional care may be necessary to ensure that a loved one’s needs are met. Finding the right balance between loved ones and professional caregivers can help ensure that a loved one receives the care they need.

Taking Care of Yourself

Providing care for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be physically and emotionally draining. It is important for caregivers to remember to take care of themselves as well. This can involve taking time for self-care activities, such as exercise, relaxation, or meditation. It can also involve seeking support from others, such as family members, friends, or professional counselors. Taking care of yourself is essential to providing the best care for your loved one.

Final Thoughts

Caring for a loved one can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it is important to remember that loved ones are not always the best option for providing care. Professional caregivers can provide the appropriate level of care and ensure that a loved one’s needs are met. It is also important for caregivers to remember to take care of themselves as they provide care for their loved one. Finding the right balance between loved ones and professional caregivers can help ensure that a loved one receives the care they need.

At Amber Court communities, we’re happy to say that we see strengthened relationships all the time after a loved ones becomes a resident, and the family member/caregiver becomes a visitor. As a resident, a senior regains their independence and dignity, and the family relationship can go back to being just that – family.