Caring for someone who can’t care for themselves is a rewarding and worthwhile experience. After all, you’re literally facilitating the health and wellbeing of someone you love. But as a society, we underestimate the toll caregiving takes on the caregiver and lack sufficient resources to offer the estimated 40 million unpaid caregivers in America, 61% of whom are women, the support they need.
The stress of maintaining care plans, rehabilitation, doctor appointments (and even rudimentary responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, and household shopping) lower the lifespan of a caregiver by up to eight years, according to the National Institute on Aging. The reason is simple: When we care for others, our own needs take a backseat. If we’re not careful, ignoring our health combined with the stress of caregiving can lead us to be the ones that need someone to watch over us. Take heart and read on for some steps you can take to keep your strength up.
Realize You’re Not Alone
At times it can feel like you’re the only person in the world going through this. While you know it’s no one’s fault, you can’t help but feel like there’s been some mistake, that there’s no way the universe could be this unfair to little ‘ole you. According to the CDC, in the last thirty days alone, an additional 25% of Americans eighteen years old and up reported they’d begun long-term care of a loved one. Caregivers are the backbone of the long-term healthcare system, worth an estimated $450 million annually. Reach out to others like you. Start with the Oohvie Community Forum and make yourself a circle of support you can lean on when things get tough.
HealthLynked is the perfect tool for caregivers. Keeping straight and locating all the medical records, appointment schedules, medications, and instructions from providers can be an outright nightmare. Caregivers can wind up feeling overwhelmed or like they’ve failed the person they care for before they even took action. Worse still, an organizational mistake can lead to improperly handling the patient’s care, providing the wrong medication or intervention, missing essential appointments. HealthLynked manages all of this information for you over a safe, secure app. Once you have the logistics taken care of through HealthLynked, it will be much easier to tell what needs to be done day-to-day. People will surely ask to help. When they do, suggest specific tasks they can complete to lighten your load.
Get the Law on Your Side
Caregiver discrimination is very real. An overwhelming number of caregivers in the United States cite this as one of the main sources of their stress, especially when trying to balance caregiving with their job. Though The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and others offer some protection for caregiving employees, it’s clear that these acts are not sufficient or are not enforced enough to make a tangible difference. Every day, there are employees fired or denied latitude because they’ve asked for a more flexible schedule to care for a loved one. There is not one all-encompassing law to protect caregivers, but if you feel like this may have happened to you, you are likely still covered under anti-discrimination laws.