Working as a caregiver, manager, or department head in the senior assisted living industry has a host of benefits. For some, it could perhaps be one of the most rewarding jobs they have ever had.
However, it is also extremely demanding a lot of the time, making it necessary to find a suitable work-life balance. Failing to do this can result in caregivers feeling spent after investing so much of themselves into the lives of the elderly who they care for daily.
The Reality Of Working As A Caregiver
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s estimated that by 2050 the size of the elderly population in America will double. This means that there’ll continue to be a rise in the demand for working as a caregiver and in the industry in general.
Looking into this more closely, a projection made by the Health Resources and Services Administration states that there will be a 34% increase in demand for senior living workers over the next decade.
Accompanying these staggering numbers is the reality of challenges in retention and high turnover rates. These result in reoccurring issues of maintaining a labor supply that is proportionate to the increasing need for the senior living workforce.
According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, 17% of care workers are of the opinion that their general health has deteriorated as a result of their work responsibilities.
Back in the 1970s, the American Thoracic Society coined the term “Burnout Syndrome,” which is associated with workplace stress that isn’t adequately managed. Caregivers experience emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion, which can be met with a shift in their attitude towards the people they are overseeing.
They may go from positive and caring to negative and disconnected. Burnout typically happens when the caregiver is trying to do more than they can realistically handle without getting any assistance.
Sufficient communication and adequate time for work completion result in care workers being 70% less likely to experience burnout. Similarly, employees who are treated unfairly are 2.3 times more likely to suffer from this “syndrome.”
As a general rule, there is truth in the saying that you can’t help others unless you help yourself. If you aren’t seeing to your own needs, it becomes very difficult to care for seniors properly or even support other members of the team working at your senior living community.
Weighing Up The Rewards
Working as a caregiver or in the community allows you to make a noticeable difference in people’s lives every single day. At times when the responsibility might seem a lot to carry, it can be helpful to consider the relationships you are forming and how you’re helping the seniors to live their golden years to the fullest.
You will come across interesting stories and people who are genuinely thankful for everything you do for them.
How To Find Balance
Remembering the importance of your health is a vital part of working as a caregiver or overseeing a community. Go easy on yourself, and if you’re having a moment of frustration, allow yourself to feel it.
Ask for help when you need it, and don’t always assume that those around you are aware of what you’re going through. Talking to a manager, co-workers, or your family should serve as an outlet to what you’re really experiencing on an emotional level.
Also, be sure to take time to unwind, exercise, and eat well. Indulge in a guilty pleasure now and then, whether it’s a slice of chocolate cake or binging on a TV show. If you are taking a vacation, then use the time wisely to relax as much as possible.
If time off isn’t on the cards, then take a few minutes in your day to shut down and recoup. Do something that takes your mind off work, whether it’s reading or going for a walk.
When you feel like the load’s becoming a bit too much, recognize how important it is to be honest with yourself and to know when it’s time to take a step back. When you think about the magnitude of the duty that you take upon yourself every day, there shouldn’t be a day that goes by that you don’t pat yourself on the back for it.
Remember that the residents and their families, not to mention your employers, are immensely appreciative of the love you’re able to provide through caring every single day.