Stress and fatigue can be significant challenges for people who provide care for seniors with dementia or serious physical limitations. It’s important, if you’re a caregiver, to care for yourself too. But in many situations, that’s easier said than done.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, about one in three family caregivers report having difficulty finding time to care for themselves, managing emotional and physical stress and/or maintaining work-life balance.
Today, let’s talk about some tips and resources caregivers in Cincinnati can use to cope with stress, stay focused and prevent empathy fatigue.
1. Network and talk with other caregivers
There are many groups — both in-person and via online discussion boards — for caregivers to meet each other and provide mutual support. Participants share their experiences, provide advice to each other, serve as sounding boards for members of the group and tell each other in about community resources that can help alleviate the burdens of care.
The Caregiver Support Group here at Marjorie P. Lee meets monthly. All caregivers from the community are welcome to attend, regardless of whether they have loved ones in residential care at our retirement community.
2. Bring in a part-time home health care provider
Although home health care can be expensive out-of-pocket, Medicare and Medicaid will, under certain conditions, cover services that help elderly people age in place.
Maybe you need a patient care assistant to be present part of the day while you go to work or run daily errands. If your older loved one requires close medical monitoring, you could hire an in-home nurse to come into your home during the day.
If you’re spending a lot of time taking your relative back and forth to physical or occupational therapy appointments, you might discuss the feasibility of in-home therapy services with your loved one’s primary care doctor. If therapy can be safely and effectively provided in your home by a licensed provider, you might be able to free up a lot of personal time.
3. Arrange for respite care
Respite care services allow caregivers to place their older loved ones in temporary (typically two weeks or less) residential nursing care, which in turn frees caregivers to take extended time off. Many caregivers use respite care services when they need to go out of town on business, or when they want to take a personal vacation.
The National Respite Network may be able to refer you to respite care programs in the Cincinnati area. You might also check into enrolling your older loved one in an adult daycare program.
Adult daycare programs provide a safe, enriching environment where seniors can socialize and have their medical and emotional needs looked after, allowing their primary family caregivers to go to work, or to otherwise have a few hours to themselves.
4. Attend an inspirational caregiving conference
Caregivers in Cincinnati have the unique opportunity to attend a special conference designed to help them learn coping skills and network with other people providing full-time care.
Refresh Your Soul is an annual presentation of Episcopal Retirement Services’ Parish Health Ministry. It brings together inspirational speakers, dementia care experts, social workers, healthcare workers and people who face the same challenges you do every day.
Refresh Your Soul 2017 will take place over two days in March at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, in tandem with Xavier’s first-ever Dementia Care Summit. The keynote speakers this year include authors John O’Leary and Loretta Anne Woodward Veney, as well as Teepa Snow, a leading educator about dementia care.
Click here to purchase tickets for yourself or for a caregiver you know, and register for this uplifting, informative conference. Early bird discounts are available until Feb. 7, 2017.
If you’re a family caregiver, give yourself a break.
It’s important that you take care of your own physical, mental and spiritual health, so that you can take care of your loved one. Use the tips above to stay refreshed and cope with the stress of looking after those you care most about.