Recognizing the Need for Outside Help in Caregiving


January 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Caregivers often don’t recognize when they are in over their heads, and often get to a breaking point.  After a prolonged period of time, caregiving can become too difficult to endure any longer.  Short-term the caregiver can handle it.  Long-term, help is needed.  Outside help at this point is needed.

A typical pattern with an overloaded caregiver may unfold as follows:

  • 1 to 18 months – the caregiver is confident, has everything under control and is coping well.  Other friends and family are lending support.
  • 20 to 36 months – the caregiver may be taking medication to sleep and control mood swings.  Outside help dwindles away and except for trips to the store or doctor, the caregiver has severed most social contacts.  The caregiver may feel alone and helpless.
  • 38 to 50 months –the caregiver’s physical health often begins to deteriorate and is the caregiver often fails to have their addressed due to their concern for the disabled loved one.  Lack of focus and sheer fatigue can cloud judgment and the caregiver is often unable to make rational decisions or ask for help.

The caregiver situation is often at this stage by the time that family or friends intercede and find other solutions for care.  Without intervention, the caregiver may become a candidate for long-term care as well.

It is wise to evaluate caretaking situations to make sure that caregivers do not continue to provide care to their own detriment, as in the scenario above.  If anyone in your family, or any of your friends is a caregiver, talk to them and help them rationally evaluate the situation. Does the caregiver still have social activities for themselves?  Are they getting any respite time away from caregiving?  Are they able to sleep?  Are they getting regular medical checkups?

During the holiday season, caregivers feel even more stress – with planning, shopping and participating in holiday activities.  This is a perfect time for family and friends to step up and provide some respite time and caregiving help.  Whether it is provided personally or arranged as a gift of services to be provided by a professional respite company or home care provider, it is a welcome gift.

An article in “Today’s Caregiver” states:
Nearly one in four caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias provide 40 hours a week or more of care.  Seventy-one percent sustain this commitment for more than a year, and 32 percent do so for five years or more.  One of the best gifts you can give someone caring for Alzheimer’s is something that relieves the stress or provides a bit of respite for the caregiver.  The Gift of time:  Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, preparing a meal, mowing lawn/shoveling driveway, respite times that allow the caregiver time off to focus on what he/she needs.

It is also important to note that one of the most valuable ongoing support to an overloaded caregiver is to hire professionals to assist.  A care manager can guide the family and the caregiver through the maze of long-term care issues.  The care manager has been there many times – the family is usually experiencing it for the first time.

A care manager can help the family coordinate both care issues and financial or legal issues.  At Legacy Law Firm, LLC, we have a Certified Elder Care Coordinator on-staff.  A Care Coordinator can assist with finding home care providers for respite care to give the caregiver much-needed time off.  Additionally, if a facility is a need, she can assist the family find the right facility for their loved one.  She can also work as an ombudsman between the family and care providers or facilities.  In general, a Certified Elder Care Coordinator can be a one-stop problem-solver for matters involving the loved one’s care.

Don’t forget that an elder law attorney can also be of benefit to families who have caregivers.  The elder law attorney can help the family determine the best way to get the loved one’s care paid for, and to preserve as much of the loved one’s assets as is possible.  An elder law attorney should be well-versed in the benefits that are available, such as Veterans benefits, to help pay for care.

If you are the one providing daily care for a loved one, you owe it to yourself to seek help.  Take care of yourself and your needs, both physically and mentally.  Seek out professional help that will ease your burden and look for community service organizations that offer respite help.

If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your loved one please contact tLegacy Law Firm, LLC.  The firm is located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients.  The office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334 or email at info@legacylawil.com.

New LOGO   LEGACY LAW FIRM, LLC:  helping your family build a lasting legacy from one generation to the next.

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