Are you prepared for your life after caregiving?
Caregivers are givers.
They give of their time, energy, money and more to care for loved ones. In giving to others they often give up things for themselves.
When caring for someone full time a caregiver may give up her job or career . . .her
savings . . .her friends . . .and maybe even her health.
And too often caregivers put themselves last. And miss out on options for caregiving support.
What have you given up as a caregiver?
And when the caregiving ends will you be able to care for yourself?
When Mary first welcomed her mother into her home, she thought it was temporary.
Mary never thought the arrangement would last 15 years, only ending with her mother’s passing.
As her mother’s caregiving needs became more intense, Mary realized she
needed to care for herself in addition to her mother. And to prepare for the
inevitable loss . . .
She didn’t know if her mother would need assisted living . . .or if her mother could live out her life in Mary’s home.
Mary realized she would have a life after caregiving and took steps to prepare for that time before it actually occurred.
Why should you make sure you get the caregiving support you need for your life after your caregiving ends?
Well you can start with considering these three areas of your life—
1. How will you support yourself financially after your caregiving ends?
Has your caregiving changed your financial independence?
When you give up your financial support to care for someone it’s admirable. It’s often a sacrifice of love.
And after the caregiving, if you don’t have a back-up plan it can turn into a tragedy.
Is there anything sadder than someone recovering from the stress of caregiving and loss of a loved one who now finds herself destitute?
Caregiving can do that. And often the most expensive time for a terminally ill person is the few weeks or months before they pass. Just when the caregivers can be most stressed and unable to think clearly about today . . .let alone the future.
Were you employed before your caregiving? Did you give up or consider giving up your job?
Maybe there’s another option. Such as taking a leave of absence or reducing your hours. Perhaps your employer will understand unexpected absences.
Many people identify themselves closely with their careers or job. It can give you a sense of self-worth you may miss when it’s gone.
You should consider what may happen if your caregiving lasts longer than you expect. Will you still be able to get a new job several years from now? Or will you need to consider a career change?
Are you prepared for the financial and emotional strains of making that career change?
And for some people a job outside the home is a welcome respite from the stresses of caregiving.
Your job or career may be your oasis in the midst of the desert of despair . . .watching a loved one slowly succumb to the ravages of age or a devastating disease.
2. Do you have family, friends or a social network to support you after your caregiving ends?
As a caregiver you’re at risk for social isolation.
It’s understandable because your focus becomes centered on the one you’re caring for. When caregiving excludes your own social support system, you can end up even more stressed.
Finding ways to connect with others and stay connected with your family and friends can be a lifeline in times of stress.
In addition to traditional social networks, you may have options on the Internet including Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites. You may stay in touch with your friends and colleagues, creating your own social caregiving support system.
3. Are you taking care of your own health in addition to caring for your loved one?
Caregivers are at increased risk for several diseases including heart disease, diabetes and stress-related illnesses.
According to studies the increased risks to caregivers’ health continues for up to two years after the caregiving ends.
And sadly sometimes the caregiver gets ill and even dies before the one they’ve been giving care to . . .
When the caregiving ends, you want to be able to enjoy your life. Not be sick yourself or even an invalid.
Sometimes when you’re in the midst of caregiving, you can be too stressed, overwhelmed and even burned out to consider your options.
Even thinking straight can be difficult or impossible.
Got caregiver stress?
Most every caregiver feels stress at one time or another. And left unchecked it can affect the care you give your care recipient . . .lead to serious stress-related diseases . . .or cause caregiver fatigue and burnout.
Click on this link for information on how this E-book Package may help you—and your loved ones.
Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, CaregivingWithPurpose.com and TheKnittingYarn.com
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider. This site does not advocate medical or other health-related self-care, and encourages you to obtain advice from your own personal physician or other health care provider.
This web site is not intended to replace medical, financial, legal, or any other professional advice. Please use your own good judgment and consult with your own professionals before applying any ideas found within this website.