Often the relatives of aging loved ones are those who gladly take on the task of providing senior care for them. The role of caregiver is vital and the work is an act of love. However, one element of senior care that is many times overlooked is the toll it can place on those providing the care. The responsibility of being directly responsible for someone else’s well-being, along with all the day-to-day chores, can be mentally and physically wearying on even the most upbeat of people. When the senior is also suffering from dementia or behavioral issues, that mental wear-and-tear can be even greater.
If you or someone in your family is currently in a position of caregiver, we have a few suggestions for making it easier.
Many times caregivers themselves overlook the toll that caregiving takes on them. We recommend that anyone in such a position take the American Medical Association’s Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire.
After completing the questionnaire, if too many red flags appear, you would be unwise to ignore it. The flags are indicators that you need some support. When you ignore your own basic needs, you can become unwell or even unintentionally impact the quality of care provided.
One of the best remedies to the stress of daily senior care is simply to talk it out. Whether you turn to friends, family, a religious leader, or support groups, being able to talk about your frustrations can greatly reduce the burden. Find a way to get out for a walk with a friend, schedule a regular phone chat or engage in some other social activity.
Remember: There is no shame in being stressed or frustrated at times while providing care; It is completely normal and natural. Pushing down those feelings can lead to resentment.
Even if you feel like taking care of an elderly person is your responsibility to shoulder, others can help you. Friends and family will likely be happy to help, if you can find tasks to delegate to them. Relatively minor (but necessary and important) chores such as clothes-washing can easily be handed over to other people, freeing some of your time for other pursuits, whether they are personal or just more critical elements of care-giving.
Plenty of options for professional senior care exist, with organizations in any city devoted to helping seniors live happier lives. From short-term care, to intermittent visitation, to full-time care, there are professionals who can give you some respite. Most can accept a wide variety of public and private insurance, as well as working with you to find waivers and charities that can reduce the costs.
Knowing when to call for help is key to preventing yourself from getting in over your head as a senior begins to require more care than you can provide alone.
To inquire about your options, contact Neighborly Home Care for a free consultation.
Neighborly Home Care is a leading provider of in home care for seniors in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware County. Our caregivers are all certified nursing assistants, or they have received equivalent training and passed a nurse aid skills assessment test.