Being a family caregiver takes work/life balance to a whole new level. If some days you feel like you’re struggling to balance your work duties and caregiving responsibilities, you are not alone.
A 2015 report from the AARP estimated that 43.5 million people in the United States provide unpaid care to a loved one–34.2 million of which are providing care to an adult over the age of 50. That means that roughly 13 percent of the American population is acting as an informal caregiver to a family member.
Providing Care Without Employer Support
According to an article published in U.S. News and World Report, unofficial caregiving responsibilities are taking a significant toll on caregivers’ work life. The article examines a study from researchers to determine whether informal caregivers of elderly parents or relatives had unmet needs in the workplace.
Matthew Andersson, one of the lead authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Aging and Health, found that family caregivers in America are facing a particularly challenging problem when it comes to managing both their caregiving duties and work responsibilities.
“A big and overwhelming consequence of America’s aging population is that so-called sandwiched caregivers, typically middle-aged, are caring for ailing parents while trying to work full-time and raise their own children,” he told U.S. News and World Report. “It’s no wonder we see such high rates of work interruption among caregivers.”
Nearly three-quarters of the study participants felt like their caregiving duties were disruptive to their work, and a quarter of participants felt like they weren’t getting enough support from their employer. With even more of the population expected to be put in this sandwich generation of caregivers as Baby Boomers continue to age, this issue is only expected to get worse.
Avoiding Caregiver Burnout
With only so much time in one day, and only so much that one person can do within that time frame, without the proper work/life balance, family caregivers run the risk of burning out. Caregiver burnout can affect all aspects of a caregiver’s emotional and physical health, and prevent the caregiver from being effective in all areas of their life, not just work.
Focusing too much on the needs of those around them, family caregivers can neglect their own health needs. As a result, caregiver burnout can leave you feeling unmotivated, exhausted, irritable, and anxious. It has also been linked to higher rates of hypertension, depression, diabetes, and stroke. Whether caregivers feel the need to do everything themselves, or lack the proper support system, their good intentions of caring for a loved one can come at the expense of their own health.
Organizations like Tandem Careplanning, however, can provide elderly loved ones with high-quality care at home in order to give family caregivers a much needed break. With Tandem, family caregivers still have the ability to be hands-on in the care they provide for their loved one, but can have a professional caregiver relieve them of their duties once or several times per week. This is a win-win situation: family caregivers receive some respite and care recipients still have access to high-quality care at home.
Find Relief With A Professional Caregiver
Don’t wait until you start recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout; be proactive with your loved one’s care needs and call one of our Senior Care Specialists to discuss how we can help support you in your role as family caregiver with respite care services.