Should You Be a Live-In Caregiver?

Live-in Caregiver
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Many elders wish to live independently at home for longer rather than move into assisted or residential care. Illness and disabilities resulting from ageing can however mean that your loved one may need additional care and support from friends and family if they are to live in their own home.

A difficult decision will often need to be made. Should you care for your loved one at their home or yours, or should you care for them from a distance? Alternatively, should you encourage them to move into residential care so that they can be cared by others, thus taking some of the weight off your shoulders?

While caring for a friend or relative can be extremely rewarding, it can often be demanding and stressful for the live-in carer.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the factors that you should consider before deciding whether you should be a live-in carer and the implications that it may entail for you.

Contents

Live-In Caregiver Statistics

If you’re considering being a live-in caregiver, you should know that you’re not alone. In the US, 40.4 million adults provide unpaid care for another adult. This number is only likely to increase as life expectancy continues to grow further.

The caregiving community is made up of people who have so much patience and love to give. Many live-in carers have disabilities and chronic diseases themselves. 40.7% of US caregivers report having two or more chronic diseases. This makes their life even harder, with all the requirements that caring brings.

1-in-3 caregivers provide 20 or more hours per week of care and 6-in-10 (61%) caregivers have a job, and half of these work full-time which can put them under enormous strain both emotionally and financially.

Live-In Carer Implications to Consider

Caregiver duties can vary enormously depending on the needs of the user and their health conditions and impairments. Your caring duties may involve assisting the user with day-to-day activities including helping out with housework such as food preparation or cleaning, providing companionship or assisting with their medical needs, medication management and hospital visits.

No matter what your caregiving duties may involve, caring for a loved one or friend can be a big responsibility. It can impact all aspects of your life from your career, relationships, to your finances.

Implications for Your Family and Your Life

Before deciding to be a live-in carer, it is important to weigh up all the options and implications that caring for your loved one may entail. Think about how it will affect your life, as well as those of your family.

Important factors you should consider include:

  • What is the relationship like with the person you’re thinking of caring for?
  • Will spending more time together cause you more stress and worry, or will it make things easier for both of you?
  • Do they require long or short-term care?
  • Will they need around-the-clock supervision, or do they only require a few hours per day?
  • Are you the best person to be their carer? Certain health conditions may need specialized care from a trained professional.
  • How much support will you realistically receive from family and friends?
  • How will others in your household be affected?
  • Can you fulfil other responsibilities effectively such as raising a family?
  • Have you discussed the situation with your immediate family, what are their thoughts on the matter?

Implications for Your Finances and Work

Many people worry how their caregiving duties may impact their finances. If the patient requires extensive supervision and caring, you may need to reconsider whether you can realistically work full time or whether you may need to work shorter hours or even give up work altogether.

70% of working caregivers has suffered work related difficulties relating to conflicting interests with caregiving and their jobs. 74% of caregivers have also had to make adjustments to their job situation or give up work altogether.

If you decide to become a live-in carer, you may need to consider the possible implications it may have with your existing job including:

  • If you unable to work full-time while caring for someone, will your manager allow you to work flexible hours or even cut your working hours in half?
  • If you need to give up your job or work fewer hours, will you be able to manage on less or no money? If you’re only caring for a loved one temporarily, this may not be too much of a predicament. If however you’re caring situation is more permanent, it could impact your finances.

Additionally, it is important to consider any additional and hidden costs which you may incur while caring for someone. Factors you may want to consider include:

  • Will your home or your relative’s home need to be adapted which may prove costly? If for example they have impaired mobility, you may need to adapt the bathroom or bedroom or you may need to install threshold ramps so they can safely use a wheelchair or rollator around the home.
  • If you’re caring for someone at your home, you may need to consider whether there is sufficient room for them and any mobility aids that they may need. If they are bed-bound for example and you need to install a hoist, you will need to consider if there is sufficient room to install one in their bedroom.
  • If you’re caring for someone and your time is limited, you may need to employ a cleaner or you may have to get food delivered if you’re unable to cook. If you’re also caring for your own young family, you may need to pay out for additional childcare.
  • If you’re looking after an elderly relative or parent, you may need to keep your heating on continually during the colder months which may result in costly energy bills.
  • If you’re cooking for your loved one, you’ll need to buy more groceries. While buying additional groceries for an extra person may not sound much, over a year your grocery bill can quickly add up.

While worrying about how your finances may be impacted can be extremely concerning, it is important to remember there are a number of options available for caregivers that can help alleviate some of these concerns.

If you decide that you may need to cut down your working hours in order to care for someone, speak to your manager or HR department about your particular needs. More and more companies are now increasingly more open to offering flexible working hours as well as allowing their employees to work from home on certain days of the week.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employers to grant 12 weeks of unpaid leave to their employees for qualified medical and family reasons, allowing you to take care of your spouse, child or parent.

Depending on where you live, some states may also provide financial assistance to caregivers if they decide to work part-time in order to care for a family member. You may for example be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits (UI) depending on your state’s particular eligibility requirements.

If your loved one is eligible for Medicaid, they may provide payment to family caregivers in certain states, to find out more check out your state Medicaid program. Check also whether they have long-term care insurance, if they do, you may be eligible to receive money to look after a family member depending on the particular insurance policy conditions.

Caring for Someone in Their Own Home

Half of all caregivers in the US report living in the care recipients own home. Some of the major benefits and drawback of doing this for both parties may include:

Benefits for the Carer

  • You’ll be able to provide the best quality care for your loved one, especially as you may know them better than anyone else does so you can anticipate all their requirements and needs.
  • Your loved one will rely on you for their wellbeing and reassurance, and emotional needs which may help to strengthen your relationship with one another.
  • You will be able to ensure that your relative is eating nutritious meals which are essential for their wellbeing and health.
  • You will never need to worry about the level of care they are receiving from external care assistants.
  • You will be able to share living expenses such as energy costs, grocery bills etc allowing you to reduce your outgoings. This is important if you’ve had to give up your job or reduce your hours at work.

Drawbacks for the Carer

  • The carer may feel isolated, stressed and frustrated with the person who they are looking after and it may become emotionally exhausting which may lead to burnout.
  • You may feel guilty about wanting time for yourself, and you may feel that you’re being trapped and you have nowhere to escape to and no one nearby to rely on or speak to.
  • Your health as well as relationships with family and friends may start to suffer.
  • You may need to give up work altogether if your relative’s house is not close-by.

Benefits for the Care Recipient

  • As the care recipient is living at home they are amongst their own surroundings, comforts and loved ones which can be beneficial for their wellbeing.
  • They have greater flexibility living at home over living in a residential home or assisted living, which means they can eat, sleep and carry out any other types of duties whenever they desire.
  • The care recipient can still keep their pet with them which is not always possible if they move into a residential home, which is important for their emotional wellbeing.
  • The patient can receive around the clock supervision knowing that the caregiver is close-by.
  • The care recipient can save on employing care assistants or having to move into assisted living or residential care which could prove extremely costly and which they may not be able to afford.

Drawbacks for the Care Recipient

  • The care recipient may feel guilty that their child or relative has had to give up their life to care for them.
  • They may feel that the relationship will become strained, and frustrated that other people are having to be in their environment.
  • They may feel embarrassed by having to be washed by or cooked for by a loved one.

Caring for Someone in Your Home

35% of caregivers report the care recipient lives in the caregiver’s own home. Some of the major benefits and drawback of doing this for both the caregiver and care recipient include:

Benefits for the Carer

  • The carer may feel relieved that the relative is within their family home, and they don’t have to travel to visit them.
  • Housing expenses can be shared allowing them to save on bills.
  • Caregiving duties can be shared with other family members allowing them to take a break when needed.
  • They will know that their relative is under their roof if they become ill, and can get them speedy medical attention, while having their own family within reach to help them if needed.

Drawbacks for the Carer

  • The carer may feel that their home has become a prison and they have nowhere to escape to.
  • They may feel that bringing their relative into their own home may disrupt and have a negative impact on family life.
  • They worry that their home may not be big enough or cannot be adapted for any equipment that they may require.
  • They worry about any noise that might disturb their relative, especially if there are young children living at home.

Benefits for the Care Recipient

  • Having all the family around them may bring them entertainment and distraction that they missed by living alone in their own home.
  • As their carer is in their own home and they don’t have to travel to and fro to visit them, the relative may feel less guilty and anxious.
  • They don’t feel so anxious if suddenly they become ill or suffer a fall and they are alone.

Drawbacks for the Care Recipient

  • The patient may feel guilty about disrupting and disturbing the family household.
  • They might worry that they have to leave their own surroundings, friends and treasured items at home.

Caring for Someone from a Distance

If your relative’s care requirements are not too demanding, it may be possible to care for them from a distance allowing both parties to have their own independence while still ensuring that they are being looked after effectively.

Smart home technology such remote monitoring devices like smart cameras and smart locks allow the caregiver to effectively monitor their loved ones from a distance, providing them with peace of mind that they will still be notified in case of any emergencies such as falls.

Some of the major benefits and drawbacks for caring for someone from a distance include:

Benefits for the Carer

  • In one way a carer may feel relieved that the patient is not disturbing their own family home. Having an elderly relative living among younger family members, may not always work.
  • The carer can still employ an external care assistant to visit their relatives at home to provide the care that they require.

Drawbacks for the Carer

  • The carer may need to manage two homes as well as care for a spouse and children and work full time, which may bring additional responsibilities.
  • Looking after someone from a distance is often a lot harder, you may feel guilty that you’re not giving your relative enough of your time.
  • If you’re relying on external care assistants to take some of the burden off your shoulders, you may worry whether they are providing your loved one with sufficient quality of care that they require.
  • You may also worry if they suddenly become ill and there is no one on-hand to get them medical attention during an emergency.
  • If your relative is unsteady on their feet, you may be concerned that they may suffer a fall and they are unable to get up.
  • You have added expense of having to travel to visit your relative.

Benefits for the Care Recipient

  • The patient in one way may feel better that they have their home to themselves.
  • They may feel uncomfortable and embarrassed about having to become reliant on their carer so they are relieved that they are being as independent as possible, and trying to get on with their life, in their own surroundings.

Drawbacks for the Care Recipient

  • The patient may feel very isolated and frightened in case of any falls or becoming ill.
  • They may become malnourished by not having regular meals, and worry about any jobs that they are unable to do around the house.
  • The care recipient may not trust external care assistants coming into their own home.

These are the many reasons that both parties must think before taking any action, and which will be beneficial for each side.

References

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Jackie

Jackie

Jackie is a passionate advocate for keeping people with all types of mobility problems active. After suffering complications after a knee replacement she knew that she wanted to remain as active as before her numerous operations. Her passion is to advise others on how to be able to lead a fulfilling and independent life no matter what disability they may have.

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