The holidays are now behind us. For some caregivers all went smoothly, and they had a joyous time with family. For others it was a stressful time, full of worry about the loved one being cared for, the family members they were away from while they cared for their loved one, or how long they could keep up this hectic pace.
Too many times, the caregiver is the one that has the crisis, not the one who is being cared for. The average family caregiver spends 20 hours a week providing care and support for a loved one. That is a half time job that is in addition to their income producing work and caring for their own household. It is a labor of love. However, it is important to understand the impact on the caregiver, (See our November article on the Caregiver Stress Test) and work to mitigate that impact.
There is help for those stressed out caregivers. It is not always easy to get to, but it is necessary. In the metro area you can find many support groups for caregivers. These groups include: Grief Support; Parkinson’s Support; Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s Support; Frontal Temporal Dementia Support and Mental Health Support, just to name a few. You can check our website or give us a call to find the closest one to you.
Another way for caregivers to relieve some stress is to arrange for some respite from the caregiving tasks. This can include asking other family members or a friend to takeover for a few hours or a few days. That is the free option. Other options include: using adult day programs (sometimes the VA will cover the cost); have your family member do an overnight respite stay at an assisted living for a few days; hire and in-home care company for a few hours a week just to give you a break.
You can also have your loved one move into an assisted living apartment. You can continue to do most of their cares, which saves them money, but you know they are in a safe place. Here they will get all their meals, safety checks, a community to interact with. You get some piece of mind but can continue to do the other cares as long as you like.
The stewardess on an airplane always tells you to put YOUR oxygen mask on first before helping others. If you don’t it could be bad for both of you. That is the same with being a caregiver. If you don’t take care of yourself, it may be worse for both of you. So work hard to give yourself a break.
If you need help finding a support group, give Choice Connections a call.