Boca Home Care Services often collaborates with families in which an adult child or supportive spouse takes on the role of primary caregiver for their ailing loved one. The challenge of caring for aging parents and partners, especially those with physical or cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, can generate significant stress. An honest assessment of the situation is usually the first step in setting up the appropriate support system for providing requisite assistance for an elderly relative at home.
A family caregiver’s job can become so all-encompassing that we generally recommend three cardinal rules to prevent burnout:
- Take care of yourself
- Find an outlet
- Seek assistance
Unfortunately, many family caregivers view themselves as endless repositories of strength, creating particular resistance to accepting help. This can further compound the stress.
When someone offers to help, such as taking a senior to an activity or picking up groceries, we encourage family caregivers to accept such support. We highly recommend options such as Senior Day Care programs or hiring a home health aide for just a few hours a week to allow yourself some respite. Home health care services can be a short-term solution or used intermittently.
If you are caring for an aging spouse at home and are growing frustrated with the level of support from your adult children, consider that it may be easier for adult children to contribute financially to home healthcare services than to coordinate their schedules. In most families we speak with, adult children are actually keenly aware of the need to limit caregiving stress on their more able-bodied parent, but often don’t know how to communicate that effectively.
Recognizing caregiver stress is a crucial first step toward addressing and alleviating it, often with the assistance of other family members, a physician or a mental health professional. The Alzheimer’s Association identifies various symptoms of caregiver stress that can gradually accumulate and potentially overwhelm even the most loving, caring, well-meaning, and proficient family caregivers. While these are framed in terms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, they are in no way limited to those specific ailments:
- Denial about the disease and its impact on the diagnosed person
- Anger directed towards the person with the disease, yourself, the medical community, or those around you who fail to understand
- Social withdrawal from friends and activities once enjoyed as a result of not wanting to talk about the ailment
- Anxiety about daily responsibilities, the future, and the “what ifs”
- Depression and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Sleeplessness and exhaustion, which in turn make routine tasks more challenging and can endanger your overall health
- Irritability, leading to moodiness, loss of patience, and triggering negative responses or actions
- Lack of concentration and forgetfulness, making everyday tasks more difficult
- Health problems that impact your mental and physical well-being, potentially indicating that you aren’t addressing your own health needs often enough
If you’re a family caregiver, you may recognize these indications of stress. Stress is cumulative and can build to a breaking point, so it’s crucial to proactively find ways to reduce and release your stress before it overcomes you.
Boca Home Care Services has been helping families navigate caring for seniors at home for over 25 years. We are happy to refer a home health aide for intermittent or respite care to alleviate stress levels on a primary family caregiver. Please contact us to discuss how we can help your family or loved one.