When you first enter a caregiving role, it can be hard to imagine how your new responsibilities might change your daily life. If you’re caring for a parent or spouse, facing their chronic illness or declining health involves a daily emotional cost that can put a strain on family caregivers more than professional ones. This job extends beyond the category of chores or checklist items – it becomes a new way of life for you and your family.
It doesn’t come as much surprise that caring for the health and well-being of another person affects almost every aspect of your life. According to Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, FL, “Caregivers will serve both themselves and their loved ones best if they’re prepared for the kind of life-altering commitment they’re making. Just like other major life transitions, becoming a full-time caregiver brings about new schedules, new discovered personal strengths and, especially, new challenges. Knowing what could be down the road you just started walking will help you enjoy the rewards of caregiving and avoid the frustrations and difficulties that could occur.”
How Caregiving Can Affect Your Life
While everyone’s circumstances are different, research finds that many family caregivers experience similar changes in their lives. A loved one with Alzheimer’s disease will require a different kind of care than someone who cannot walk on their own, but the act of providing care can still cause the same affects throughout various aspects of your life. Consider caregiving’s impact on:
- Family Dynamics
As caring for your loved one becomes a top priority, your family environment and atmosphere is likely to change as family members take on new responsibilities. Especially if your loved one moves in with you, you and other family members in the house will need to adjust to a new home dynamic that includes your loved one and their illness.
Relationships may grow stronger and healthier or experience strain as you shift responsibilities. If you are caring for a parent, the reversal of the caregiving role can be unsettling for both of you. Be patient during this time of adjustment and understand that everyone, including the loved one needing care, are fighting individual battles of change.
Receiving care from a family member rather than a professional may save your loved one a significant amount of money, but it can have a great impact on your own finances. Most adult children of parents who need care aren’t yet retired, and many choose to give up working in order to be a full-time caregiver. In addition, costs of transportation, medical supplies, occasional hired help or defraying medical bills add up as time goes on.
While many couples who find themselves in the roles of caregiver and recipient are retired and don’t need to be concerned with giving up employment to provide care, they can still experience financial strain if they are on a fixed income.
- Physical Health
According to clinical and psychological research, caring for a family member can cause all of the features that make up a chronic stress experience, including ongoing mental and physical strain. If your loved one has diminishing health or caregiving is extremely difficult, high levels of stress can wreak havoc on your physical health.
Fatigue, poor sleep schedules, poor diet, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and overall exhaustion are all common consequences of caregiver stress. Caregivers often neglect their own health, put off going to the doctor and seldom have the luxury to fully recover from an illness under the demands of caring for their loved one. Many caregivers also report experiencing more heart problems than those who aren’t caregivers.
- Emotional Health
Being a full-time caregiver will also affect you emotionally. In addition to the stress, many caregivers experience high anxiety and depression. They experience social isolation when caregiving becomes overwhelming and neglect their own emotional health and happiness in exchange for providing their loved one’s care.
Among all the ways caregiving can affect your life, this may be the effect that’s easiest to control. While bills have to be paid and errands must be run, you can choose how to respond to stress. Caregivers are often encouraged to join support groups with other caregivers to gain guidance and reassurance from others in the same circumstances.
You Never Have to Be Alone on This Journey
Caregiving’s impact is great, and it can change your daily life in many significant ways. The best way to ensure a healthy, full lifestyle for you, your family and the loved one in your care is to anticipate these changes and be prepared to overcome challenges. Fortunately, support is always within reach. You can learn about caregiving techniques, tips and coping strategies through online resources, local organizations or leading senior living communities in your area.
“Tuscan Gardens is honored to provide experienced-based support for family caregivers,” shares Clanton. “We host a regular schedule of events for caregivers to help them access expert-led educational seminars, workshops and fun social events to attend with their loved ones. We’re also happy to address their questions and concerns about providing care and increasing their loved one’s quality of life. Tuscan Gardens has become an excellent resource of knowledge and support for families.”
The Art of Living
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.