It’s estimated that 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the past 12 months, according to a recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
Being a caregiver for a parent, spouse, friend, or anyone else can be extremely time consuming and stressful. Below are just some of the ways that being a family caregiver can be hard on you and your life.
Taking care of another individual can take upwards of 20 hours a week, and can make balancing personal life, work, and hobbies a difficult task. In the same study from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, more than half of family caregivers reported that their caregiving duties have caused them to sacrifice vacations, hobbies, and other activities.
Six in 10 caregivers report having to make workplace accommodations due to caregiving, including reducing hours, taking a leave of absence, or receiving a warning about performance or attendance.
57% of caregivers are married, and 28% have children. Caregiving for someone can take time away from these family responsibilities and connections, putting stress on these relationships.
These competing priorities can make it easy to feel guilty over spending too much time at work or with family—or even resentful of being a caregiver.
Physical and Emotional Stress
Being a caregiver can have extreme physical and mental tolls. Many caregivers experience frustration, sadness, anger, and exhaustion.
At least 17% of family caregivers report their physical health as fair to poor, as opposed to only 10% of the general population. The longer someone acts as a caregiver, the more likely it is for them to experience deterioration of their physical health. 22% of caregivers feel their health has worsened since becoming a caregiver.
In addition to worsening physical health, as many as 38% of caregivers experience emotional stress. Generally, those caring for a spouse or a parent feel more emotional stress than those caring for a non-relative.
The cost of being a family caregiver is more than just competing priorities and physical and mental stress. Acting as a caregiver also comes with many financial implications. The extra expense that comes along with being a caregiver can mean not meeting savings goals or not taking that vacation.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, the average yearly out-of-pocket cost for family caregivers is approximately $5,000. It’s even higher for out-of-town caregivers: $8,700. This number includes food, travel, transportation, medical insurance co-pays, and medications.
It’s important to remember to take care of yourself while acting as a caregiver. One of the best ways to do this is by regularly using respite care to relieve you of your caregiving duties. Regularly eating nutritious meals, getting organized, and finding time to relax are also great ways to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
In addition to providing respite care, at Bluebird Homecare we can provide daily care – and even overnight care.