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Supporting Family Caregiving

Who are caregivers?

Chances are that you are, or will be in the not-too-distant future, either a caregiver or someone cared for by a family member. Caregivers who are older persons, that are tending to family when by all rights they should be enjoying their older years and looking after their own health and well-being. Caregivers range in age from the young to the old, come from rural, suburban, and urban environments, and provide 24/7 care or, they may be working part-time or full-time for income, and yet spend many of their off hours caring for their family members. They may be caring for loved ones at home or have to travel a distance from their home or work place at the end of their work week to provide full-time care and companionship to their elderly parents on weekends, hoping that phone contact will hold things together between weekends. Many caregivers, facing the prospect of a growing level of dependency, may need to shift down from full-time work to part-time work or leave the paid economy entirely for an indefinite period.

Many of these caregivers have serious illnesses or disabilities of their own. Many find themselves needing to care for their loved one over a prolonged period of time. Often worrying about how long they can continue to do this and about what the future holds.
When do caregivers ask for help? Why do we resist or avoid getting help? Maybe people think they will appear weak. Maybe people think they are imposing if they ask for help. Perhaps family members believe they are supposed to shoulder full responsibility of tending to their ailing loved ones whether they are frail older family members or youngsters. Maybe it is you that needs some help, maybe you want to deny it and believe you will be able to handle whatever comes. Maybe you are worn out, you want to believe that your balance is off because of your shoes, or you’re not seeing the street sign well because of the sign’s positioning, or maybe you are thinking that people like you don’t ask for help. Maybe you are uncomfortable because you think that when you finally do ask for help someone will say no.
Let’s give ourselves permission to be human. We all do it. But now it may be time to bring in some help to assist you while you care for an aging loved one. Respite may be the option to help you provide the appropriate care and supervision, particularly if you see that a decline is unfolding.

For caregivers, accessing respite services will provide temporary assistance that allows a care provider to come to the home and help with a variety of tasks such as cooking, shopping, and laundry, as well as bathing and dressing as needed. In home respite services can be provided by a Licensed Homecare agency, or you can hire someone that you already know.
Another type of respite that can be helpful is at Assisted Living facilities and Adult Homes who very often provide overnight accommodations for you loved one. Generally these facilities require that your loved one stay one or two weeks at a minimum.
When a higher level of care is needed, a nursing home may be the answer. Many nursing homes have respite beds whereby your loved can stay two weeks or longer. This allows caregivers to take a longer break and know that their loved is safe and receiving the appropriate level care.
Another type of respite service that can be extremely helpful is having your loved one attend an Adult Day Program. This is by far, the most affordable option for caregivers. Adult Day Programs provide a safe and stimulating environment for people at all levels of functional abilities. There are two types of Adult Day Programs they are Social and Medical model programs. Both of the programs provide activities, meals, entertainment, and most importantly supervision for your aging loved one. Most medical programs provide showering, toileting and other hands on care as needed. These programs are open all day; this allows working caregivers added support knowing that their senior is not home alone all day.
Caregiver face many challenges every day, in realizing that sometimes you may need more help in caring for your loved one, then accepting the help, a safe care plan can be put in place. Taking a break and is an important part of being a healthy caregiver. Respite can help you take care of yourself while caring for your aging loved one.

For more information about caregiving in the Capital Region, contact:
Mary Moller MSW
Catholic Charities Caregiver’s Program
107 Nott Terrace @ DayHaven
Schenectady, NY 12308
518-346-1852 Ext. 6
mmoller@cathcharschdy.org

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