When You Can No Longer Play the Role of Caregiver

Are you a family caregiver? The number of family caregivers is on the rise. Chances are you, or someone you know, has, is or will be caring for an aging loved one. Despite the myriad of reasons one may become a caregiver, by choice or out of need, the role can be both rewarding and challenging. In most cases the role of ‘caregiver’ is a temporary solution to the long-term care continuum

Eventually most aging adults will need additional or specialized care at which time a change will need to occur. This change can occur gradually or suddenly. No matter the reason, chances are it won’t be easy.  Many aging adults prefer to stay living at home independently, or with some assistance. This is added pressure on family members to help keep this dream possible. 

The reality of today’s family caregivers is much like a juggling act between the care of a loved one, their own families, and even a full-time career. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2105), “92% of providers providing 21 or more hours per week experience high burden versus 16% of lower hour providers.”  With 92% of those surveyed feeling the pressure of the added caregiver responsibilities, it is safe to say, you are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Good news is on the horizon. In January of 2018, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028/H.R. 3759) was passed into law, and requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop, maintain, and update a strategy to recognize and support family caregivers. With this act, support will be more readily available to families and their loved ones. 

For an aging loved one, there will likely come a point that you can no longer fulfill the responsibilities as a caregiver. That is okay. 

Before You Say “Yes” to Caregiving

Plan ahead.

Ensure you, your family, and your loved one are on the same page when becoming a family caregiver. It is helpful to set guidelines as to timeline and next steps if at home care is no longer possible.  know this may not be a permanent solution.  Agree that everyone will do their best to keep your loved one at home.

Guilt Free Caregiving

Caregiving is a labor of love.

It can and will likely cause some level of burnout. Regardless of why you can no longer be a caregiver to your loved one – focus on the quality of life you were able to provide, the extra weeks, months, or even years you were able to allow them to stay at home, the memories you have created and they joy you brought to their life. 

Here is a helpful resource on managing the challenges of moving a parent into long-term care.