The top 6 reasons why we accept the human cost of caregiving … but shouldn’t!

caregiving stress Jan 28, 2019

The statistics1 are staggering when it comes to unpaid, family caregivers. Whether it’s providing care to your child with a disability, your aging parent, or some other loved one, the numbers are mind-numbing.

Here’s the deal:

  • 43% say their loved one’s health is more important than their own.
  • 49% experience feelings of depression.
  • 51% don’t have time to exercise.
  • 70% feel tired most of the time.

On top of that, unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. give up $3 trillion (that’s 12 zeroes) per year in wages, pensions and other benefits.2

The scary thing about this is we fell into most of these categories when Ben was young.

We did everything ourselves. 24/7. 365 days/yr.

We didn’t ask for help. We were his parents. His care was our responsibility.

Whenever it was suggested that we should bring in a caregiver to help, we had a million reasons why that wouldn’t work.

  1. We couldn’t afford to pay anyone. Things were extremely tight financially, every day, and Ben’s world was unbelievably expensive. We couldn't add more costs. We just had to manage on our own.
  2. We couldn’t leave him with a stranger. How could we trust that this person would know what do when Ben's next health emergency occurred? We couldn't take that risk.
  3. It wasn’t the right time. We had so many things on the go, we couldn't think about wrapping our heads around hiring a caregiver.
  4. We couldn’t give up control. There was underlying feeling of guilt if I had to give in and hire someone. It meant that I had somehow failed as a parent if I couldn’t even care for my own child.
  5. We didn’t have time to train someone. Ben’s world was (is) so complex. Where would we find someone who could learn it all? And, it would take forever to train them.
  6. We were unsure of the best route to take. No one was stepping up to help us find someone, and people weren’t lining up at our front door all trained and ready to go. Where would we even start to find someone? It was overwhelming.

Looking back, it’s clear now that the "money" reason was the only one that was real. The others were excuses, plain and simple - mental barriers that we had erected.

Our Strategy

Nevertheless, Jan and I purposely found ways to avoid going down the caregiver path, including working opposite shifts in our jobs. I was 9-5, she was 5-1am.

That strategy worked for a while but we never saw each other. And, after a few years of this insane routine, we had turned into a couple of zombies.

It wasn’t good for our health.

It wasn’t good for our relationship.

And our kids were certainly not getting the best of their Mom and Dad.

One day we were backed in a corner and had to do something.

With no lead time. No preparation.

It was like we had a gun to our head. It was a terrible feeling. And it caused even more grief in an already stressful life.

Your Strategy

If some of these "reasons/excuses" are resonating with you, that's good, because you are where we used to be. But you can take a different path.

You don't have to wait until it's too late. Until you're forced to act and your options are few.

You don’t need that. Plus, you have way too much going on to add depression and chronic health issues to your list.

So take a breath and think about how you change direction to bring a great caregiver into your world.

Once you start thinking about it, you will start to generate some new ideas and possibilities. Some will sound realistic and practical and some will not. That doesn't matter.

What does matter is that you would have taken the first step to creating something that can make a difference, and not feel as stuck or trapped.

If this sounds outrageous or is too much to wrap your head around right now, that’s OK. I get it. I certainly don’t want to add more pressure to your life.

But find 15 minutes later today and have a look at these 19 tips that can help you bring a great caregiver into your life.

We’re here to help you down this path.

Deciding to bring in a caregiver is not an admission of failure.

It's actually the right response to ensuring both you and your family have the best possible support.

Today can be different!


1 As reported in “Embracer Carers Survey”, 2017,

2 As reported in a 2017 MetLife study,