As America’s boomer generation gets older, more of their adult children are finding themselves—planned or unplanned—in the role of caregivers for their aging parents. The increasing costs of health care and long-term professional care play a role for many families making this choice, but personally ensuring their family members’ comfort and well-being is equally important.
Acting as a caregiver can be a rewarding but challenging role, and it’s important to consider your own well-being if you take on the job either full-time or part-time. If you commit to caring for others, here are some important self-care tips to remember:
It’s important to consider your own well-being if you take on the job of caregiver.
• Ask for help: Caregiving can be a physically and emotionally draining job. Reach out to friends, neighbors or family members who can step in when you need to step away. Whether it’s for a week or just an hour, taking time to recharge yourself will benefit you and the people you care for.
• Stay connected: Your focus may be on the people in your care, but be sure to stay in touch with others outside of your home “bubble.” Stay engaged on social media, call or text your friends, join clubs and interest groups that you’re passionate about—anything that keeps you connected with others can help when your work as a caregiver becomes lonely or stressful.
• Get support: You’re not in this alone. Join support groups that provide guidance and networking for people sharing your situation. Caregiving is challenging, emotional work, and by sharing your struggles and successes, you and others can learn from each other and find empathy when it’s needed most.
• Mind your finances: Many people who provide caregiving for loved ones also absorb a lot of the costs. Whether it’s out-of-pocket medical costs, meals and housing, or other daily expenses, take steps to protect your own long-term financial situation. Starting and maintaining a budget is an important step that can help you monitor where your money goes. And consider what would happen to your loved ones if something happened to you. Buying or increasing your life insurance coverage can help ensure that your loved ones continue receiving care if you die unexpectedly.
There are many things you should think about before you commit to being a full-time or part-time caregiver for a family member or a loved one, and these decisions should involve doctors, therapists and other professionals who can help determine the best course of action for the care recipients. But most importantly, make sure your needs as a caregiver are part of the equation.