Families, do not do it alone !
Those who succeed to sustain a loved one at home in the long run are those who understood that they have to protect themselves and get professional help at home as early as possible in the care process.
- 7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.[The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, DC.] – Updated: November 2012
- 52 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness. [Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1] – Updated: November 2012
- 5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. [Alzheimer’s Association, 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s and Dementia , Vol.7, Issue 2.] – Updated: November 2012
- LGBT respondents are slightly more likely to have provided care to an adult friend or relative in the past six months: 21% vs. 17%.[MetLife: Still Out, Still Aging 2010. Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Baby Boomers] – Updated: November 2012
More numbers on https://caregiver.org
FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT AND DO NOT FEEL GUILTY TO GET HELPED
Engaging home care services instead of you doing the hard work is not about being selfish or flying away from your responsibilities or not loving the person in need of care. It is about sharing the load and focusing on other care components that professionals cannot replace. Using outside nurses and professional caregivers is about prioritizing and keeping your strength for what is truly matters: remaining strong on the long run.
Indeed, caring for a chronic illness is like running for a marathon. It takes time and tires you slowly both physically and mentally. By engaging home help early, you will not only stay stronger but you will be able to address the need of your loved one for the longest time without seeing him or her as a burden.
CALL FOR OUTSIDE HELP EARLY
Most families delay to call for outside help for many reasons. Sometimes, they do not know how much it will simplify their lives; or they do not know where to turn, or they cannot afford such a service. All these are good reasons. However, too often they delay to engage home care services because they feel they can still cope. This pattern is even more frequent when the primary caregiver is the spouse of the patient. Out of love, they keep repeating to themselves and to others : “I can still cope !”
The answer is “Yes, today you cope or maybe you think you can cope but are you really delivering the right care to your loved one ?
Despite the endeavor and the motivation of caregivers, their way of caring might be not appropriate or no longer be sufficient for the patient. Family members are always giving their best but their technique and their assessment of the situation might not be as accurate as a professionals’ opinion.
Engaging home care professionals helps to get an objective analysis of the patient’s condition in his/her own settings. Healthcare procedures get validated and corrected if required. It protects the interests of everyone involved in the care including the patient. It safeguards everyone’s strengths in the long run.
PREVENT CAREGIVER BURN OUT
Caregiver burn out is a reality. And, once a caregiver has given beyond what he/she could, the least little issue that might arise becomes a big problem. Losing their motivation, caregiver run out of patience much quicker or are constantly irritated for no reasons by the least little detail. They stop to be kind and available. The problem is that once a caregiver is burnt out mentally, to come back to a more peaceful atmosphere is very difficult. One often stays bitter.
Sometimes, admitting they can no longer cope forces caregivers to take a step back and consider if the current care structure needs to be improved. They need to face the actual condition of their patient and whether the situation is stable or has worsened? If it did get worse, caregivers might see this set back as their own failure. They feel guilty about what they should have done. Evaluating their care is rough process for someone who keeps giving his or her best for a loved one. Sometimes, caregivers are just not willing to change their practices or fear to change. They fail to understand that adapting the care structure is crucial in order to address the needs of the patient. Yet, the only important question they should keep in mind is : “what does my loved one really need to stay home safely and comfortably ?”
A PIECE OF ADVICE TO CAREGIVERS AND FAMILY MEMBERS
If you delay using home help and respite care, remember that it is not about admitting your failure as a caregiver when you engage a home care service. It is about doing the right thing ! It is about throwing best practices in the care process in the interest of the patient. It is about sustaining and improving the level of comfort of everyone involved. It is giving caregivers time to focus on the real priorities such as recovery, fight against the disease or sharing more quality time together (being more available). It is about keeping your strength in the long run.