Family Caregivers - When the Stress Outweighs the Rewards

Health

As our population ages, more care-giving is being provided by people who are not health care professionals. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 in 3 adults, in the United States, provides care to other adults.

A caregiver is anyone who provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse or partner, a disabled child, or an aging relative. Often, family members who are actively caring for a person in need don't self-identify as a "caregiver." By recognizing this important role, family caregivers could receive support they don’t even know they need.

According to a recent study by AARP, nearly 60 percent of caregivers work outside of the home. The additional responsibilities of being a caregiver may begin to drive a feeling of being overwhelmed, or exhausted. It’s important to know that help can come in many forms to meet the needs of the family caregiver. In addition, and perhaps the most challenging for caregivers and their families, is knowing when it's time to consider assisted living.

Caring for your loved one at home, as long as possible, may be your goal. Not only does the guilt of moving mom or dad weigh heavy on caregivers, but the adult you’re caring for may be resisting the move. So, what does "for as long as possible" really mean? In essence, how do you know when it's time?

If you're the caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, maybe you've wondered the same thing. If you’re in the situation of desperately wanting to keep your family member at home, but are starting to feel that the challenge of balancing everything in life might be too much at times, it might be time to reach out to professionals.

Signs that your loved one may need assisted living may include:

  • Aggression. Physical or violent aggression frequently happens in those with dementia, and caregivers or other family members may suffer or begin to feel resentful.
  • Caregiver Stress. You may find yourself crying almost daily, isolating yourself from friends and other family, or generally feeling overwhelmed with the mounting pressures of care-giving.
  • Escalating Care Needs. If daily bathing, feeding and other needs that your loved one should be doing independently begin to fall more consistently on your shoulders, it’s a sign that they need more care than you are able to provide.
  • Home Safety. If leaving for work concerns you because you’re not sure your loved one will be safe during the day, in terms of falling, forgetting to lock doors, or shut off the stove, it may be time to consider more deliberate care so they won’t be left alone for 8-10 hours each day.
  • Wandering. Many caregivers report their loved one wanders away from home during the day resulting in a call from neighbors or police. Often times this is their final signal that they can’t provide the right amount of supervision for their loved one.

Many people report feeling incredibly relieved when they finally sit down with professionals and discuss their loved one’s needs. They soon realize that making a change will provide safety, support, and comfort for everyone. In fact, many adult children report that making the move to assisted living allows them to fall back into their role as the child. Visits with their parents become about catching up, chatting, going out to eat or staying on site to enjoy activities. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and searching for a better way forward, perhaps it’s time to look more closely at The Springs Living community in your area.