We can argue all we want on who has the harder job—the doctor or police officer, the teacher or the office worker. All jobs have their own unique challenges, and one isn’t necessarily more difficult than other. They’re all hard in various ways.
Perhaps one of the hardest types of jobs are those that take up a lot of your time, but you don’t get paid for them. For example, a stay at home mom (or any kind of mom for that matter!). Time doesn’t stop for the kiddos, and neither do you, even if you’re not coming out with a paycheck at the end.
One of the more lesser known unpaid hard jobs? Is a caregiver. If you’ve ever had to take care of an elderly parent or grandparent, you know what we’re talking about. It can be all-consuming and all-encompassing, and you don’t get paid a cent to do it. You just do it because there’s no better way.
There are about 40 million caregivers in the country, working to take care of family member with no pay. One of them was Rob Lowe.
The actor recently published an article on USA Today entitled “I was my sick mother’s caregiver, don’t underestimate the stress caregivers face” discussing the hardships he faced, and it has since gone viral.
A few years back, Lowe found out his mother had stage four breast cancer, and it was up to him and his brothers to care for her. “It’s not a role I was expecting to land, it didn’t come with much preparation, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done — and, undeniably, one of the most difficult,” he said.
Why was it so difficult? When you’re a caregiver for someone else, you focus solely on their health, their life, and can even forget about your own.
Take care of yourself when taking care of others
“When you’re caring for a loved one, there’s nothing you won’t do (or sacrifice) to give them as much comfort and peace of mind as you can possibly provide,” he said. “Often, that means you’ll skip your social obligations, wreck your diet, suffer sleep deprivation, and even risk your career, all to help a loved one through the most difficult time of their life.”
But, Lowe says, the takeaway here is that it’s important to practice self-care when you yourself are a caregiver. “The person you’re caring for needs you to be at your best,” he said. “If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy or the means to provide the reliable care that your loved ones need.”
Even with the extra help from his brothers, Lowe says it was difficult and overwhelming. While he knew he was lucky to have others to help him out, he cites a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, which says a third of caregivers in America do it alone.
So this is a message to all caregivers out there: It’s important to find the time to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your loved one to the best of your ability.
For more on Rob Lowe’s experience caregivers and the tips he has to offer, check out the article in USA Today.
Have you ever been a caregiver before? What did you find most difficult? Were you able to practice self-care?