When a family member or spouse steps in as the primary caregiver for a senior loved one, it’s not an easy undertaking. Adjusting to the responsibilities and challenges they face each day takes a lot of patience, love, and compassion. The costs of caregiving are mostly transparent, but there are a few that are more hidden.
The ones who are there to help a loved one first are giving the ultimate sense of devotion to that individual. They give up time and energy to best provide for them, and even forget to take care of themselves. It’s important for caregivers to be aware of their own selves and wellbeing, just as much as their senior loved one’s.
If you are on the fence about whether to move a loved one into assisted living, financials are something that also need to be taken into account. It is essential to focus on what’s best for a loved one’s quality of life, but also what is cost-effective.
Lost wages, benefits, and possible promotions
The amount of time needed to provide daily caregiving is a huge commitment. Feeding, bathing, medication management, and assisting them in other tasks as time goes on give lost time for work hours.
When caregivers have to cut back hours at a full-time job, they lose wages and added benefits and promotions they may have received later on. Some employers might be wary of even promoting an employee if they know they are a caregiver, because they are aware that the employee has a lot of stress on their shoulders already.
Minor expenses build up
When a senior loved one moves into the caregiver’s home, there are added costs of additional groceries and utilities. Most homes are not equipped with safety features in the bathroom, doors, or walkways. The installation of these components will come with additional expenses, especially if they have to hire a contractor or handyman for these installations.
The cost of additional gas and transportation adds up for caregivers who must commute to the home of a loved one. Adding additional miles on a vehicle can eventually lead to more expenses through oil changes and other maintenance needed.
Loss of privacy and alone time
The loss of self-care and privacy is also a huge, and sometimes invisible expense. Caregivers find themselves not having the time to take part in their usual activities and clubs. Constantly having to spend time caring for another makes it easy for caregivers to not have any alone time.
With care being required around the clock, seeing other family members or friends outside of the home isn’t easy. Caregivers may also find it hard to relate to former friends who are not going through the same struggles as them. This can lead to the caregiver feeling the effects of isolation and loneliness.
Personal healthcare expense
Some people tend to fall victim to caregiver burnout, the mental and physical exhaustion of caregiving. A number of factors play into the advancement of this, but it boils down to the caregiver becoming too overwhelmed whether they can’t make enough time to take care of themselves, or that the role has become more than they can handle.
Caregiver burnout leads to increased stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Some of the many signs of caregiver burnout range from lack of sleep or ability to fall asleep, irregular eating patterns, irritability, increased emotional withdrawal, and feelings of hopelessness.
With increased stress and not enough rest, caregivers find themselves becoming sick and increased back pain, headaches, and possibly other ailments that require doctor’s visits and medications.
The Caregiver’s Dilemma
A family member who decides to become a caregiver may do so without hesitation – out of pure devotion to that loved one. The role as a family caregiver is special, but not one that should be taken lightly. If the loved one is also suffering from memory loss conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, added challenges are presented.
The disease progresses over time, with new changes in behavior that might take some family members by surprise. It’s hard to see this occur, and by hiring a caregiver or considering a memory care community, the time spent with this loved one is then solely focused on quality time together.
If you are in the position of deciding what’s best for your loved one, give us a call today at Kensington Place. Our memory care neighborhoods tailor the level of expert care to all stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. We promise to love and care for your family, as we do our own.