With baby boomers growing older, more and more people are becoming caregivers at a much younger age. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, two out of every five adults are caring for a loved one, and the numbers are growing.
There are three hats that caregivers wear at least once every day: the caregiver, the family member, and the employee. In addition, you may also have a spouse or child who needs you, or even a hobby that you would like to visit every now and then. With all these responsibilities, it is no wonder that caregiving leads to burnout, depression, and poor physical health.
With the increased stress you may be feeling, our circle of connections needs to get both broad and deep. In some cases, friends and family cannot provide all the support you need. Psychologist Ivan Wolfson, Psy.D, an expert in helping families navigate caring for aging parents, says, “Friends can be a comfort and balm when you care for a love one. But they usually can’t fill the role of professional, structured support. By nature of your relationship, they are more likely to agree with your perspective or tell you what they think you most want to hear. They might also project their own issues on your experience, mottling their support with their unrelated grief or resentment or fear.”
It is important to remember to take care of yourself and know when you need professional help. Professional help can include “house cleaning services, home health aides, psychologists, massage therapists, a personal trainer at the gym, and support groups, just to name a few.” Unchecked caregiver stress will eat at relationships, hinder performances outside the home and make you sick. You, and the person you care for, deserve the best.