Taking care of an aging senior, parent, or spouse can be a powerful and rewarding experience. However, it can also present serious challenges to overcome. Even though we plan as much as possible and have conversations with seniors beforehand, there are always unforeseen circumstances that can force us to make difficult decisions regarding our senior’s wellbeing.
Sometimes these decisions have to do with the safety, dignity, and legacy of the person you are caring for and the right choice is not always apparent. The best we can do is act as a comforting and supportive guide as they navigate this chapter of their lives, doing what we can to keep them safe and happy.
Building from a foundation of respect for your senior is important. For example, we may have to impose certain restriction on their freedoms such as driving, fixing the roof, or ordering from the shopping channel, but these types of things can be approached in the right way to turn an uncomfortable encounter into respectful exchange. Sometimes these moments can still lead to frustration and anger, but we are only human and it can happen from time to time.
You need to respect yourself and your caregiving abilities in order to provide the best proper care for you senior. After all, when you’re faced with difficult decisions it is best to operate from a place of respect and empathy. Don’t worry about decisions being the perfect choice, all you need to require of yourself is empathy and respect. If you feel like you’ve made mistakes, then learn from them and move on.
If you have a good relationship with yourself and your senior, you will suffer less from guilt when faced with the tough decisions of having to place them in a senior living facility. You may still feel pain, but operating from the perspective of placing their health, safety, and wellbeing first, you can rest assured that you’ve made the right decision. Even if you promised that you’d never put them in a nursing home, you don’t have to feel guilty because you are doing the best with the circumstances given to you.
After all, no one can fully know the future. Caregivers may have to make decisions that could have gone against past wishes, preferences, and beliefs, but the truth is that things change. You’ll need to learn how to cope with making these difficult decisions in the long run.
The most serious decisions will come about over concerns of life and death, such as wills, burial requirements, and other aspects. Or for example, keeping someone alive if they are in a condition where they may not ever regain consciousness. There are some circumstances that we hope never to face, but that confront us anyway. Even with all the legal documents that give us instructions, there is no right answer that fits every scenario.
Using Support Services To Help Caregivers
Caregivers for seniors may often put their physical and mental health on the line when it comes to administering care for a loved one. It may seem like burning the candle at both ends for the benefit of a senior is wise, but the truth is that depleting your own energy and focus could wind up hurting yourself and the person in your care in the long run. Ignoring health screenings can also result in serious health consequences.
Sometimes the caregiving process can feel like an either/or prospect. In other words, you either dedicate all your time and effort to helping your senior, or you throw in the towel and look for senior living or nursing home facilities to give your senior loved one to. While it can seem like all or nothing, the truth is that you have other options available.
These options offer you the chance to pursue a happy medium. It may not be perfectly suited for every situation, but there are services available to help ease the burden of caregiving and practice some self care. Your loved one may not want to experience change, but you owe it to yourself to find an option that keeps you healthy and sane while caring for your senior.
Caregiver stress is caused by the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Because many caregivers are proving help and are “on call” almost all day, many caregivers can get overwhelmed by the amount of care that they need to provide and can go on to report high stress levels.
There are a number of signs and symptoms that could point to caregiver stress include:
These high stress levels can affect caregivers in a number of ways, and if not treated properly, it could lead to more serious health problems.
Caring for Caregivers
It is important to remember that, as a caregiver, you need to prioritize your health just as much as the person you’re caring for. Caregivers have an important job, but doing that job while not fully health can lead to many consequences for both people. As mentioned before, caregivers who work with dementia patients reported high levels of stress, higher levels than regular caregivers.
Caregiver stress is a condition that many caregivers will experience. The problem is characterized by increased stress, feeling overwhelmed, irritation, social isolation, and more. There are many ways to improve your physical and mental health as a caregiver. For example, seeking out a social group or a support group can go a long way toward helping with social isolation and reducing stress. Likewise, if the situation is serious enough, it may be best to see a doctor about ways to relieve stress and feel better.
Caregiving is a difficult task, and some health issues can make the job even harder. Dementia, as mentioned before, is a serious disorder related to memory and behavioral issues that can make a caregiver’s job much more strenuous. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, however, there are methods that you can take, as a caregiver, to make life easier for both you and the patient.
At Landmark Senior Living, we provide our residents with the medical attention that they need at this stage in their lives. This includes memory care that can help to improve the quality of life for dementia patients. Along with medical care, Landmark help plan social and events and activities to keep residents entertained at our facilities. If you are interested in learning more about Landmark, please visit our website at LandmarkSeniorLiving.com and reach out to our admissions staff.