Caregivers can be spouses, partners, adult children, parents, other relatives friends, neighbors or paid professionals, essentially anyone who is providing care for another individual. If you are a family member who has found yourself in the role of caregiver, it is likely that you have additional responsibilities outside of caring for your loved one. Adding the responsibility of a caregiver can easily lead to frustration and exhaustion. Rarely are family members trained to do the broad range of tasks that are required when caring for an individual with dementia. Therefore, it can be difficult to know how to care for and support them on a daily basis. In this article we provide some information about the caregiver role, and provide caregiver tips to help reduce stress.
Caregiver Role Information
Common tasks caregivers execute frequently are;
- Household responsibilities (buy groceries, clean, cook, etc.)
- Daily routines (getting dressed, administering medicines, taking a shower, etc.)
- Movement (transferring to or from a chair, bed, etc.)
- Arrange medical appointments, drive to the doctor, sit in during appointments, monitor medications
- Communicate with medical professionals
- Arrange for assistance—especially for someone who cannot be left alone
- Handle finances and other legal matters
- Provide companionship
Reducing Caregiver Stress At Home
When taking care of someone in your family who is suffering from dementia, feeling overwhelmed is common. This can lead to stress in other areas of your life.
Here are some ideas that may help reduce stress;
- Get a good diagnosis—from a specialist or geriatrician if necessary—of your loved one’s health condition. Make sure you understand what is happening medically.
- Learn what specific skills you might need to care for someone with whatever their diagnosis is
- Talk about finances and healthcare wishes. Leaving the lines of communication open is key.
- Complete legal paperwork, e.g., Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives
- Bring family and friends together to discuss care
- Keep them up to date on the current situation
- Identify resources, both personal and in the community
- Find support for yourself and your loved one
Alternative Living Arrangements
Families will look for alternative living arrangements when they no longer can support their loved one in the home. When this happens, you may hear the following terms. Become familiar with the language that is common to senior living communities.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – everyday tasks related to personal care usually performed for oneself in the course of a normal day. This would include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, walking, taking medications, and other personal care activities.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) – activities related to independent living, such as preparing meals, managing money, shopping for groceries or personal items, performing light or heavy housework, and using a telephone
Assessment – An assessment from a professional to determine that appropriate support that is needed for your loved one. This may include ADLs or IADLs.
Respite Care – provision of short-term relief (respite) from the tasks associated with caregiving. Respite services encompass traditional home-based care, such as hiring an attendant, as well as care provided to the care recipient in out-of-home care settings, such as adult day services and short-term stays in a nursing home or other care facility. Respite can vary in time from part of a day to several weeks.
Caregivers & Senior Living Communities
Not every caregiver has the ability to live near their loved one. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are able to visit.
Observe your loved one during visits:
- Are they eating properly?
- Taking medications properly?
- Able to get out and about to do their errands?
- Is the house messy and unorganized?
- Is there increased confusion?
Answering these questions will allow to assess if extra care or support is needed for your loved one. Once this is determined, you and your family can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
It is common to arrange for other individuals to provide face to face care if you do not reside near your loved one. There are several options to explore if you need someone who is geographically closer to your loved one.
Care managers act as a substitute family member to your loved one and can arrange for services such as:
- Visiting nurses
- Providing care
- Spending quality time
- Delivering meals
Local Support System
Try creating a support system of other people living near your loved who are willing and able to help.
- church or community service groups
Orchard at Athens is a senior living community in Athens Georgia that has trained staff to support your loved one. We refer to our staff members as Care Partners rather than Care Givers because we envision our care as a two way street. Rather doing “to” our staff works “with” your loved one as a partner in supporting their life. Please contact us to learn more about our community and how we can help.