Following on from November blog of Caring for the Caregivers, below are some ideas where support can be accessed and the care-giver can have their own life together with caring for their loved one on a part-time basis.
Support groups. Bottling up your concerns, fears—and yes, resentments—just amplifies them. If you're not comfortable sharing your feelings with friends and family, check out caregiver support groups. Some groups are for people whose loved one has a particular condition, such as dementia. Support groups, in person or even online, are safe spaces to be open about your experience, and to share caregiving tips.
Counselling. If your caregiving experience seems fraught with emotional pitfalls, consider therapy sessions with a counsellor who is familiar with caregiving issues and can help you work through the challenging issues. This might be a time when you learn a lot about yourself and your priorities, developing coping tools that will not only help you now, but will be of use for the rest of your life.
An aging life care professional. Also known as geriatric care managers, these professionals can perform assessments and help families develop and implement a plan of care for older adults with health challenges. Those professionals can be accessed through the HSE. These professionals will be the first to tell you that you simply cannot do everything by yourself—and then, they can help you find resources that mean you don't have to! They also can facilitate family meetings to be sure everyone is on the same page and sharing the care load fairly.
Home care. Even the "I don't want a stranger in the house" mantra from loved ones who initially balk at the idea of home care usually realize that having a professional perform difficult or intimate tasks brings with it a greater sense of independence. Professional caregivers can assist with personal care, such as bathing, grooming and incontinence care. They can provide housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation. You can hire a caregiver for a few hours a week, for a respite period, or full time. By supporting the health and well-being of a senior loved one, home care promotes better health and peace of mind for family, as well.
Guilt may go both ways.
Your loved one, too, may be feeling guilt. Brain imaging shows that the part of the brain associated with stress becomes more active when we feel like we are imposing on someone. The old saying, "It is better to give than to receive," may very well be true in the caregiving dynamic. A loved one who seems snappish, depressed or resentful may well be struggling with a painful sense of indebtedness. This is another reason that engaging outside help, such as in-home care, creates a much better emotional climate and a more normal relationship among the generations.