Being a caregiver in any capacity is full of challenges. But for the HHA or CNA, being either a daily caregiver or a live-in caregiver can be strenuous, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
What are the biggest challenges facing the professional caregiving community? As a caregiver, what are you the most worried about and better yet, what are the solutions?
The 2 Biggest Challenges for Professional Caregivers
Most jobs are stressful and being a caregiver is no exception. In fact professional caregivers, especially over the age of 50, report a high level of stress in their daily jobs. Being a caregiver can be wonderfully fulfilling, due to the bonds that can be made between caregiver and patient. But this is also one of the reasons that personal stress management can be the biggest challenge for professional (and family) caregivers.
Being responsible for the care and well-being of another human being takes heart and skill, as well as a strong sense of self-care (when you’re not working). What kind of stress is the most common and what are some things you can do to manage your stress?
Caregivers, their patients and the patients’ families are well aware of how physical this job can be. Lifting, turning, escorting and performing the other Activities of Daily Living that are required when caregiving, all take a toll on the body of the caregiver. Back injuries, strained muscles and long hours on your feet can really break down your body over time.
Often the last thing we want to do when we have a physically demanding job is to go and do something physically demanding (like go to the gym or to do a home workout) on purpose. The reality is that if we use our bodies during physical exercise, we are less likely to suffer an injury on the job.
Just having a physical job is not “getting exercise”. It’s actually works best the other way around. If we get regular exercise (not at work), then even a physical job will bother us less. In fact, being in better overall physical health will decrease the risk of injury (which impacts the patient’s care and your income) and make our daily challenges less daunting.
Try to get regular cardio exercise 3-5 times a week, at least 20 minutes. Walking is a great exercise and it will help to keep you heart-healthy as well. If you’re overweight, like a large percentage of the population, then consider trusted programs to regulate your weight, such as Weight Watchers or Noom.
Caring for another person full time isn’t just physically draining. Your entire day consists of meeting someone else’s needs and some patients, even wonderful ones, can be quite demanding emotionally. Add to that, that often times the personality type who goes into a career like caregiving is nurturing and selfless.
But this can lead to many complications and challenges for the caregiver. When we spend all our time focusing on the needs of another, we neglect our emotional own needs. When this happens, it can lead to isolation and burnout for the caregiver. How can this be prevented?
The term self-care has been all the buzz lately, but what does it really mean? As caregivers, we need to take time to nurture ourselves, to love ourselves and to give ourselves a break when we need it. Constantly doing what is best for someone else (as a job) means you have to take better care of you, in your off time.
Get the right amount of sleep. Being in physically better shape (see above) will also help you to not be “exhausted all the time”.
Do something as a hobby that satisfies and nurtures you. Do you love scrapbooking or knitting or cooking or gardening? What gives you JOY? Find that thing and do it. And no, no matter what anyone says, binging streaming video for your full day off doesn’t bring us joy. Yes, it gives us a mental break, ad we need to those too. Just be sure to give yourself joy, this is how we nurture ourselves.
Caregiver burnout is the most common challenge for professional and family caregivers. Burnout occurs when the caregiver is overworked, hasn’t been able to attend to their own needs and feels at the end of their rope. It is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.
Fatigue, physical exhaustion, constant irritation, isolation away from friends, weight gain, sleeping too much are just some of the signs that a caregiver is heading towards (or already in) a period of burnout.
While prevention and self care are best done before, to ward off burnout, what can you do if you feel you are already in that place?
In addition to the above items:
Ask for help. If you work for an agency or facility, speak with your Coordinator, manager or HR representative. Ask what resources are available for support. Speak with a trusted church member or counsellor to let them know how you’re feeling.
Be honest with yourself about your challenges. How are you feeling? What is your gut telling you? There may be times that there isn’t a good fit between patient and caregiver and this can be rough for everyone.
Take care of your physical and mental health. See your doctor and let them know what you’re going through.
Get connected with other caregivers. Talking with other caregivers about your shared challenges is very empowering and you’ll find a camaraderie in compassionate understanding. VeryWell Health has an amazing list of support groups for caregivers here.
Taking care of a human being in need takes a special person, with a very special skillset. Be sure that you’re taking care of your own needs and your own mental health. It’s only in living this way, that you’ll be able to shine your light and support your patients in the best way possible.
If you’re a caregiver who lives in South Florida and are looking for wonderful patients to work with, we want you as part of our team!
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
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