Caregiving for a loved one at home can be a difficult task, whether you’re caring for someone in their home or yours. It’s a physically demanding job, but it’s also emotionally demanding. It’s hard to watch someone you care about struggle, and sometimes disagreements with other family members are unavoidable.
Even though caregiving can be difficult, there are ways to make it easier. If you’re taking care of a loved one who is either ill, disabled, or aging, here are some of the best ways to make your job easier.
1. Apply to become a paid caregiver
Caregiving will require taking time off work, which means losing money. Even if you can afford to lose some of your pay, why not get paid for caregiving? Taking time off of work may not be a big deal for your employer, but it will certainly cut into your paycheck. That’s why you should apply to become a paid caregiver.
Most states have programs that allow Medicaid recipients to hire friends and family as paid caregivers. For example, FreedomCare in New York helps people get paid to care for friends and family and is one of the best programs around.
When you sign up to be a paid caregiver directly through the state, you become an independent provider. As an independent provider, you’ll get paid, but you won’t get other benefits. However, working with an organization like FreedomCare will give you access to additional benefits.
For instance, you’ll get holiday pay, paid sick time, paid family leave, and 401(k) matching. Some caregivers can get reimbursed for their cell phone bill, childcare, gym memberships, and can even get health insurance.
2. Hire additional caregivers
People feel more comfortable and at ease when they’re being taken care of by someone familiar. However, sometimes the care provided by friends and family isn’t enough and you’ll need to hire more help.
To get additional help, you have two options: state and private caregivers. When you hire state caregivers, the state will usually cover a good portion of your fees. However, you’re limited to a certain number of hours per week. To fill in those gaps, you’ll need to hire private caregivers, which will be more expensive.
Although the cost is a little higher, don’t hesitate to hire private caregivers. It’s rare that the state will provide your loved one with enough caregiving hours per week. If you’re still creating your caregiving plan, set aside some funds to cover private care.
3. Take care of yourself
While you’re taking care of your loved one, it’s crucial that you also take care of yourself. Caregiver burnout is a real phenomenon and if you’re not careful, you’ll experience it intensely.
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It’s extremely easy to fall into this state when you’re caregiving. If you do experience burnout, you can end up feeling depressed, fatigued, anxious, and depleted.
Most of the time, it’s not the physical caregiving tasks that lead to the burnout, but rather the emotional aspect of the job. For instance, the most common factors that lead to burnout include:
- Setting unrealistic self-demands. Many caregivers put too much pressure on themselves to do more than they’re capable of doing, and either don’t ask for help or don’t ask for enough help.
- Unrealistic expectations. It’s natural to want your caregiving efforts to make a positive impact on your loved one’s health, but that can be unrealistic. People suffering from progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may not see improvement and may even get worse.
- Lack of control. When you don’t have enough financial or physical resources to meet all your loved ones needs, it can be frustrating and exhausting.
These are just some of the sources of burnout. In any case, burnout will have a negative impact on your health. To avoid getting to that point, take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, and spend some time relaxing even if it means doing nothing but watching YouTube videos or some movies.
Make your caregiving duties easier
When you apply these tips to your life, your caregiving duties will be easier. Caring for a loved one will never be a walk in the park, so be prepared for the things you know can create exhaustion. When you plan for these things ahead of time, you’ll have an easier time caring for the one you love.