Taking Care of the Family Caregiver

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Caregiving for a family member can be very satisfying and personally rewarding. At the same time, it can also be downright exhausting. When family caregiving continues for an extended period, or when the caregiver experiences health challenges of their own, taking care of the caregiver becomes critically important.

Caregiving is Demanding

When you are caregiving for a family member, sometimes it can feel like taking care of your own health is just too much. You may feel that you don’t have the time, energy or even the inclination to do what’s needed for your own physical or mental well being. Exercise, routine doctor’s appointments, getting together with friends… it’s all too easy to postpone these things – and then never get around to them. Family caregivers often tend to give up their own hobbies and interests and even sacrifice their sleep in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities.

The Effects of Neglecting the Caregiver’s Needs

The effect of neglecting the caregiver’s needs can be catastrophic. Family caregivers are 63% more likely to experience an earlier death than non-caregivers. Caregivers are at an increased risk of depression and a higher risk for misusing alcohol or drugs. Caregivers are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, which in turn put them at risk for heart attacks, strokes and other health problems.

Meeting the Caregiver’s Needs

As a caregiver, it is vital to figure out how to meet your needs on an ongoing basis. When you are constantly exhausted and worn down it’s just not realistic to expect your best. Your loved one will receive better care from you when your needs are met. Caregivers often don’t know where or how to start meeting their needs. A good place to start is to meet with a professional who can look at your situation from an outside perspective, and help you devise a plan.

Home Care Providers Make a Difference

Home care agency personnel are among the experts when it comes to figuring out how to reduce stress relating to caregiving. They can listen to your situation, and offer suggestions as to where they can help out in ways that feel comfortable to you. Some families enlist home care aides simply to help with laundry and housework. This can go a long way toward easing the family caregiver’s load. Other families arrange for home care respite to take over caregiving duties for a period of time. Since home care services are customizable to each individual family’s needs, they look different for everyone. Popular respite options include:

  • Daily
  • Once or More Weekly
  • Intermittently (such as for appointments, or weekends out of town)

Home Care Respite Benefits the Whole Family

It’s easy to see how bringing in a home care aide to help out with household chores, or to look after a loved one while the caregiver catches up on outside responsibilities, can benefit the caregiver. What many families don’t realize is that respite care can actually benefit the person needing the care as well. They benefit immeasurably from a more refreshed, healthier and happier caregiver. They also tend to enjoy socializing with a different person while the family caregiver attends appointments, tends to errands or bills, or even just takes the opportunity for a nap or a shower! By making a quick call to a home care agency you can explore how home care respite can help you meet your needs as a family caregiver.


If you or an aging loved one is considering caregivers in Leesburg, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 782-3655.