What About Me?
"I was not prepared for how much my life would change when I became my Dad's caregiver."
Caregivers and Care Managers are special people. We are strong, dedicated and selfless individuals. We accept this role and the price that comes along with it. It has a way of changing things from our relationships with our spouse/life partner, our children, siblings and most of all -the one with yourself to our careers and even our own future retirement.
There is very little being said about the side affects of being a Caregiver and the scars it leaves on us. We are made to feel like there is something wrong with us and its all in our head - the stress, frustrations, the worry, the fear, the challenges and "battles" of just getting through each day when you are caring for someone. We understand because we felt the same as you.
What you are feeling is real, valid and has a name: Caregiver Stress Syndrome. Here is where you can read more about this (Caregiver.com; The Caregiver Syndrome by Ron Ingber.)
"Caregiver stress syndrome is a condition characterized by physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It typically results from a person neglecting their own physical and emotional health because they are focused on caring for an ill, injured or disabled loved one."
This is not a diagnosis! Nor are we medical professionals. Our goal is to share with you information that we have been looking for to define how we were feeling and ways to address many of the issues related with the Caregiver role.
Yes, your life does matter.
"Thanks for the "girls night out" invite - sorry can't make it. Its just not possible for me to go out unless I can find someone to cover caring for my Dad."
"I'm on the fast path for a promotion, but now Mom is moving in with me. I'm not sure if I will be able care for her and work full-time."
"The sister-in-law is setting up a spa day, but you cannot afford to go since you are paying some of Mom's bills out of your own pocket."
But wait, there is more!
Caregiver Syndrome is not the only health condition affecting Caregivers. Some are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
Even now, Caregivers are living in the shadows. No one is keeping track of the information about this "unofficial occupation". The safety and job environment issues which normally would fall under OSHA regulations or the Labor Department do not apply to us.
Furthermore, as some of us eventually step out of the Caregiver role when the loved one passes away, the life as the Caregiver is buried with along with them. Everyone who has ever done this will agree that this job "sucks"; however, the motivation to make any needed changes to make this job better for future Caregivers dies off as well.
When Caregivers are finally released from their indenture, they will try to pick up the pieces of their life from where it left off before the journey started. This should sound like a happy ending which in reality for some of us - it is not.
The concerns, the issues and the impacts of being in the Caregiver role is all very real. However, since no one is tracking any of the the information about how this role is affecting us, these issues remain unidentified, undocumented and unresolved.
"Make time for yourself a task item. It does not make you a bad Caregiver - it makes you a stronger one when you do!"
"You know, our home helpers are not just to help your Dad - they are there to support you too." Frank Esterlie, owner of Home Helpers Home Care Services.
Find More Control on the Caregiver Dashboard
Finding data to reinforce the issues related to being a Caregiver is not easy nor is it hardly ever a trending topic on social media. But when it finally is, that's Headline News!
From Yahoo Money
Over half of female Caregivers agree with the following statements according to Julie Hyman Anchor; Yahoo Money :
"I'm afraid that caregiving expenses will keep me from ever retiring (83%)"
"Being a caregiver will likely use up the money that I had planned to leave for my children's inheritance (64%)"
Being a caregiver could use up the money I had planned to use for my children's education (57%)"
Here is the VLog in its entirety: Study: Women bear the brunt of caring for aging parents; Yahoo Money -Julie HymanAnchor . Yahoo.com/money/women-bear-the-brunt-of-caring-for-aging-parents-nationwide-retirement-study
More troubling statistics.
"Care Managers/ Givers spend on average $7400+ out of their own pocket when caring for another individual."
"60% of Care Managers/Care Givers die before the person they are caring for."
"50% of Care Managers/Care Givers end up in depression."
Everyday there are more and more statistics being offered on the financial impacts on Caregivers. The only way to change the outcome is through knowledge, preparation and planning. "Knowledge is the key to a successful financial future" is not just free financial planning advice. It is valuable advice.
" Knowledge is the key to a successful financial future. Mike Profit, MBA -
Financial Planner, MassMutual Greater Philadelphia
With Validation Comes Peace of Mind
There is an expression, its not you its me. In this case, it truly is not you! Everything you are feeling, everything you are and will worry about is real and valid.
You are not the only Caregiver who is going through this. Your concerns as your loved one's Caregiver are valid!
There is a fallacy that once you step into the Caregiver role, you must loose yourself. No you don't!
A Caregiver's life is just as important as the one you are caring for.
Will it be difficult doing both - caring for yourself while caring for another, Yes - but you do not have to do it alone.
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first, and Debra Myers, Professional Stress Management consultant is an amazing resource to help you through these challenges.
" You Can't Pour from an empty cup. Take Care of yourself first."
Anastasia, Aging Parents Management
As Caregivers, we believe that unless we completely immerse our life into this role - we are doing a disservice to the person we are caring for.
Now that my sister and I are able to look back at our experience as Dad's Caregivers, we now see where some of our mistakes were made.
We never gave this stage in our lives - as future daughters of aging parents a second thought. There were things that we should have seen coming which is why it is important to through the different Scenarios in you life!
The other issue is we had unrealistic expectations which only set us up for more challenges which could have been avoided. Maybe you have these same Unrealistic Expectations?
The biggest mistake we made was feeling that we had to go through this alone. Make connections that support you the way you need it whether it is through; Professional Support, our Podcast, Webinars, or Group Chats.