Maybe you aren’t the caregiver—you just love a caregiver. How can you support someone in your life who’s caring for an aging loved one?
The term “caregiver,” or family caregiver, describes an unpaid family member, friend, or neighbor who provides care to an individual who has an acute or chronic condition and needs assistance.
Caregivers manage a broad variety of tasks ranging from bathing, dressing, and giving medications to tube feeding and ventilator care.
Since approximately one in every five adults is a caregiver, and caregiver burnout is all too common, caregiver support is important.
According to information gathered from the National Institutes of Health, four out of 10 caregivers spend five or more years providing support. Two out of 10 have spent a decade or more of their lives caring for family member. Over half provide eight hours of care or more every week, and one in five provide more than 40 hours per week. It’s no wonder caregiver burnout is such a chronic problem.
Let’s explore a few vital ways you can provide caregiver support for the caregiver in your life.
Caregiver Support—Allow Caregivers to Share Their Feelings
Caregiving can be a stressful and difficult role. After all, it is work.
Often, caregivers struggle with conflicting feelings and emotions they may not know how to handle. All this leads to caregiver burnout. Allowing them to share how they feel is an important part of ongoing caregiver support.
Caregivers may struggle with:
- Anger or resentment—They may feel angry or resentful toward the person for whom they care. They may experience anger at the world in general, or be resentful of other friends or family members who don’t have caregiving responsibilities.
- Anxiety and worry—Caregivers constantly worry about how they will handle the additional responsibilities of caregiving and what will happen to their family member if something happens to them.
- Grief—Many losses can accompany caregiving (the healthy future a caregiver envisioned with a spouse or child; the goals and dreams they had to set aside). If the person they are caring for is terminally ill, they’re also dealing with that grief.
- Guilt—Caregivers often feel guilty for not doing more, not being a “better” caregiver, not having more patience, or not being available more often.
Caregiver Support—Meet Caregivers’ Needs
Caregiver burnout occurs when caregivers become overwhelmed by the daily grind of caregiving, and caring for their loved one becomes too difficult. A vital part of caregiver support is providing for the caregiver’s own needs.
Too often, caregivers neglect themselves out of guilt. But caregivers need care, too. Caring for the caregiver is the job of family and friends. Here are some of the caregiver’s most important needs.
Emotional Caregiver Support
- Provide them a break during the day to relax and/or relieve stress
- Provide a non-judgmental listening ear
- Participate with them in some way to feed their spirit
Social and Recreational Caregiver Support
- Provide them time to visit regularly with other people and nurture close relationships
- Provide them time to do things they enjoy, hobbies, etc.
- Provide them breaks each day, and an extended break once a week
Physical Caregiver Support
- Provide them 30 minutes for exercise, at least three times per week
- Ensure they are able to eat right
- Ensure they get plenty of rest each night
- Provide for them to attend necessary appointments (medical, dental, etc.)
Caregiver Support—Take Advantage of Senior LIFE Services
Each member of Senior LIFE receives an individualized care plan that covers all medically necessary services, as well as support services to provide help for caregivers. At Senior LIFE, we know preventing caregiver burnout is a critical part of caring for our members. We help you keep your loved one at home.
Some services designed for caregiver support include:
No-Cost Coordinated Care—Senior LIFE is a “one stop shop” that coordinates and delivers all Medicare and Medicaid services with a holistic view of each member and the goal of helping loved ones remain at home. The best part is that 99 percent of members pay no cost, copays, or deductibles. Care is coordinated by the medical interdisciplinary team, and caregivers don’t have to take off work to make sure their loved one gets to doctor appointments. Senior LIFE coordinates all the medical appointments, provides the transportation, and communicates results and care plans directly with the members and their caregivers.
LIFE Health and Wellness Center—If your senior loved one is well enough, Senior LIFE’s Health and Wellness Center is a warm and inviting place where LIFE members can socialize, receive hot meals, see the doctor, and receive therapies from their healthcare and personal services team. This can provide caregivers needed breaks during the day or week, and your loved one with some valuable diversions and activities. Through-the-door transportation is provided to the LIFE Health and Wellness Center.
In-Home Services—We understand that caregivers need a helping hand. That’s why many of our services are available in the home if necessary, including:
- Personal care services, including assistance with bathing, dressing, and meal prep
- Medical or nursing services
- Physical, speech, and occupational therapies
- Dementia care
- Social services, including recreation
- Light housekeeping, laundry, and related chores
- Medication delivery with easy-to-use medication pouches
Senior LIFE provides support for members—and their caregivers. Contact your nearest Senior LIFE center to find out about the services they can provide for your elderly loved one.
Categories: For the Caregiver