How You Can Reduce Caregiver Stress

“I’m exhausted and I don’t know what else to do.” That’s a typical refrain we hear from callers reaching out for elder care help. Being a caregiver for our own parents is a role most of us are thrust into with no preparation and no warning. It might be a sudden illness, an accidental fall, or the stark realization that a parent is experiencing dementia, not just forgetfulness.

As adult children of aging parents, most of us start out in crisis mode when something happens to our parents. We juggle caregiving along with all our own family and work responsibilities. We may reach out to siblings and other relatives for caregiving support, trying to cobble together coverage for our parent’s medical appointments, household chores and meals. So many people get stressed and burdened to the breaking point before turning to outside help.

My wife Margot and I founded Good Company Senior Care based on our experiences caring for sick and elderly family members. We wanted to help seniors live safely and comfortably in their own homes as long as possible. Just as importantly, we wanted to be a resource for people struggling to balance their own lives with the ever-growing demands of caregiving for elderly loved ones.

As a caregiver you must ask for help. The stress of going it alone is dangerous to your health. A reputable senior care company can help you organize a care plan and tap into local community resources available to help you.

Here are just a few of our suggestions for lifting the burden of caregiver stress:

1. Seek in-home care management advice. If you want to help your loved one live at home rather than moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home, reach out to a trusted in-home senior care organization for help creating a care plan. Many organizations and private companies will give you advice and guidance at no cost. Non-medical home health care agencies like ours will help you connect with any and all available community resources. We can also help you look at your financial options in term of insurance, Medicare and subsidies, depending on your senior’s income level.

2. Take care of yourself first. You know that warning on airplanes about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others? Keep that in mind when it comes to caregiving. When you’re stressed to the breaking point, you’re far less able to be useful and emotionally present for your loved one. Take breaks from caregiving, eat balanced meals and take time to exercise, sleep, and talk with friends. Everyone struggles with guilt, worry and the feeling that we’re not doing enough. Talk with others in similar situations and consider counseling for yourself and/or your family.

3. Seek out support groups – in person or online. There are excellent, helpful forums and support groups online and in many local communities for families of every type of patient. Whether your loved one is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke or just the frailty that comes with aging, there is a group to help you. Research shows that people who participate in support groups have lower rates of stress, guilt, anxiety and depression. Support group participants also become much better informed about outside resources and specialized expertise.

4. Learn about assistive technology options. There are a number of technologies to make sure your elderly parent or loved one is safe when home alone. Emergency alert bracelets and pendants, GPS tracking for wandering, remote video surveillance, tele-homecare, sensory augmentation and all sorts of assistive devices can help the elderly and disabled cope on their own. An in-home care agency like ours can offer advice and share our experience with some of these options.

5. Find out about long-term care insurance options. Having a good long-term care insurance policy can make a tremendous difference in the quality of in-home care you can afford for your elderly parent or loved one. If one or both of your parents is still healthy, look into the options. There are also useful strategies using a reverse mortgage to buy long-term care insurance. You should also consider insurance for yourself so when you need caregiving services someday, you’ll have more choices.

These are just a few of the suggestions we share with the families of the seniors we serve. To learn more about in-home senior care options, dementia care, caregiver stress, non-medical home care, and all aspects of elder care, please call us at 323-932-8700.

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