Full-time caregivers find themselves feeling guilty when they think about finding other arrangements for senior loved ones who have been aging in place.
Am I abandoning my dad? Will my grandma feel unloved?
But you can't be awake at every moment. You work, have your own children to raise and have your own life to live. If you don’t have enough time to meet your own needs, how can you continue to meet all your aging parent’s needs?
"More than 65 million Americans provide full-time care for their senior or permanently disabled loved ones."
And that’s especially true if your senior loved one is living with dementia or an advanced chronic illness. Providing full-time care can take a severe physical, mental and emotional toll on you.
Placing your mom, dad or grandparent in a continuing care retirement community, bringing in home health care services or enrolling your senior loved one in an adult day care program might be your best bets to keep them living well into the future.
If you’re not ready to take such steps, you at least need support. And you need time for personal respite and recovery.
Guard against caregiver fatigue
Fatigue is a serious problem for full-time caregivers. The responsibility of meeting a loved one's constant needs is very stressful. And that stress can run you down.
Signs of caregiver fatigue can include:
Problems at work
Arguments with family members, including your spouse, children or even the senior loved one you’re caring for
Increasingly frequent feelings of being overwhelmed
Feelings of depression
Irrational or overly emotional reactions to ordinary stressors
Continual worry that things are slipping through the cracks, or that your loved one is in danger when you’re not immediately present
Abnormal weight changes resulting from loss of appetite, or from stress-induced binge eating,
Increasing frequency of colds and other illnesses (which may indicate the stress is affecting your immune system).
If you find yourself experiencing these signs and symptoms, it’s past time for giving yourself a break. You need a vacation.
Arranging in-home care for your senior loved one could provide you the respite you need. Bringing in a licensed in-home nursing aide would give you an extra hand to help with difficult tasks, like helping your aging relative to feed, bathe, dress or use the bathroom. A nursing aide can also help you manage your loved one’s daily medications.
If in-home care isn’t feasible, you could enroll your parent or grandparent in an adult day program, which could give you the space you need to work, run errands, and relax more in general.
Adult day care programs are designed to give your loved one time out of the home in a safe, monitored environment where they can enjoy themselves and socialize with people their own age. You might contact the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio for help finding a reputable adult day care program near you, or to find out about other resources that might be available to you and your family.
Know that you are not alone
According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 65 million Americans provide full-time care for their senior or permanently disabled loved ones. And of those full-time caregivers, six in 10 are also employed in their own careers.
If that describes your situation, it might help to have support from people just like you. Here in Cincinnati, Marjorie P. Lee Retirement Community’s Caregiver Support Group might be just what you’re looking for.
The Caregiver Support Group meets in the retirement home’s first-floor library, typically at 3 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. Caregivers who come to the group don’t necessarily have to have a relative living at the Marjorie P. Lee — any caregiver may attend.
And although some support groups in the area are specific to caregivers lending support for people with a particular disease or condition, the group at Marjorie P. Lee is not. All are welcome.
It might be time to consider placement.
There will inevitably come a point at which providing full-time care for your senior loved one becomes too much to manage, even with outside help. When that happens, it is time to consider residential placement.
A retirement community like Marjorie P. Lee can provide the round-the-clock medical care your senior loved one needs, as well as supplemental memory care and life enrichment activities that you might not be able to provide on your own.
We’d be happy to host you and your senior loved one on a tour of our community, so that you can see how we can help your family do what’s best for you. Please consider scheduling yours today.