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Caregivers face a unique set of obstacles

Caregivers who are providing for elderly relatives often face obstacles that other individuals their age aren't dealing with. While adult friends discuss upcoming retirement, children's behavior or vacation plans, caregivers might be wondering how long they can be out of the home without causing a safety risk or if they can afford the home modifications required for appropriate care of their loved one.

According to the American Psychological Association, caregivers often suffer from their own physical and mental health concerns. Depression and anxiety can accompany the stress that is inherent in caring daily for an older or sick individual. Fatigue can set in when sleep is sacrificed to assist someone else, and over time, sleep issues can develop.

Caregivers might also struggle with secondary strains on other areas of their lives. If a caregiver has a full-time job, it might be at risk because he or she is unable to perform tasks fully while fielding calls and dealing with issues related to the individual being cared for. Family challenges might occur because of the new dynamic in a home when an elderly parent moves in.

In some cases, caregivers don't know where to turn to for assistance and they spend a considerable amount of their time educating themselves about care options. This can isolate them from their own social circles, leading to some of the problems listed above.

While most family members would not forgo caregiving simply because it can cause potential problems, care planning can help alleviate some issues. Care planning might include creating legal documents that spell out your wishes so loved ones aren't faced with seemingly impossible choices. It might also include seeking appropriate insurance policies so that loved ones aren't left holding the bill for long-term care. Working with a care planning professional lets you understand options so you can better position your entire family for the future.

Source: American Psychological Association, "Common Caregiving Problems," accessed June 17, 2016

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