If you are a professional caregiver in a senior living community, your days are spent attending to the needs of others. Those in your care may be some of the most vulnerable and depend on you to provide assistance with the majority of tasks needed for daily living.
But your contribution likely goes beyond those services. While supporting their physical care you also look after their emotional needs. You are their caregiver but to them you are also a companion and trusted friend.
One question that is often asked, however, is who takes care of the caregiver.
Why support is critical for the senior living caregiver
Caregiving can be hard work. It is physically demanding and also requires a strong emotional foundation to be the one that so many rely on. Unfortunately, caregiver burnout or compassion fatigue can occur, especially if there is little or no respite. It’s not uncommon for many senior living caregivers to return home to take care of the needs of their small children or older parents.
Professional caregivers may also find it difficult to re-energize as they know their residents are likely not getting better. They needed care today and will need it again tomorrow. Because caregivers are empathetic by nature, you may find yourself internalizing the emotions and experiences of those you care for.
If there isn’t support to help the caregiver recharge, the physical and emotional consequences can include:
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Increased feelings of irritability or hopelessness
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Becoming ill more frequently
Support for the senior living caregiver
Support is critical for the health and wellbeing of professional caregivers but knowing where to look is the first step. Consider these suggestions:
- Your organization
You need to put your health first. Otherwise, not only do you suffer the ill effects but so does your family. And ultimately, you’ll no longer be able to effectively do your job.
Before you accept an offer for a position at a senior living community, make sure you ask the organization what support they offer to their employees. Do they provide time off for personal days? Do they offer wellness benefits or encourage recreational activities for employees to support them in handling stress?
- Your coworkers
You’re all in this together – or at least that is a healthy way to view how you and your co-workers contribute to the quality of life for the senior living residents. If there’s not an organized group or way to relieve stress, take the initiative and see if there’s any interest for others to get together after work to recharge.
Sharing ideas for not taking things too personally or balancing work and family can alleviate some of the tension and strain of your work. Other employees in senior living understand the challenges and rewarding work that you encounter every day.
- Your family
Families support each other. But caregivers often return home and provide for others’ needs while neglecting to take care of themselves. Accepting and admitting that you can’t do everything is a big step. Ask your family to pitch in so you are all sharing the responsibilities.
Communicate about your days, both the joys and the challenges, with your family. Let them know when you’re facing a more difficult situation or if you’ve suffered a loss of one of your long-term and favorite residents.
- Your friends
Your friends care and are there to support you when things are difficult or to celebrate when times are good. Although you wouldn’t share personal information about a resident, it could help to discuss with a trusted friend the general life topics that you are faced with every day.
For example, it might help to talk about what you see as some of the major challenges of growing older. Caregivers in other medical settings may help people who will eventually get better and go home. Your residents likely will not.
Make sure to give yourself a break. Even on the days when you might feel as if no one else appreciates what you do, be kind to yourself. You know the difficulty of your work and the difference you’re making for others.
Caregivers are known to neglect their own health and needs even though they know how important it is to maintain their physical and emotional health. Take care of yourself. Schedule time to participate in activities that you enjoy. Whether it’s getting together with friends or exercising after work, putting yourself first sometimes ultimately makes you a better caregiver.
Joining the team at Sinceri Senior Living
Sinceri Senior Living specializes in independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, fostering deep bonds between those who live and work in our communities – just like families.
We extend our commitment in creating this welcoming environment to our employees who form strong relationships with the residents and their coworkers. In fact, many of our team members think of the community they work in as their second home because of such strong connections.
The caregiver’s role is to first make our residents feel safe and secure. We strive to ensure everyone we hire is generous, compassionate and as committed as we are to provide excellent service at every opportunity.
We understand the stress that caregivers can experience and the challenge in trying to stay one step ahead of what a resident or family member might need or desire. We fully support their efforts as it truly takes a team to provide quality senior care.
If you’re interested in becoming a care partner with Sinceri Senior Living as we strive together to exceed expectations, we hope you’ll be in touch.
We also invite you to download our complimentary guide, Simple Self-Care for Caregivers and CNAs: 6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself so You can Care for Others, which includes helpful tips and steps you might try.