Providing care for a family member is a big responsibility, one no family member is ever truly prepared for. At Senior Lifestyle we often speak with families who are in what we call the caregiver crunch: the caregiver has responsibilities to his or her family and career as well as to the loved one in need of care and feels simultaneously pulled in two directions and compressed between two very different but equally important roles. The crunch can create a host of difficulties for families and it can also create frustration, resentment and guilt for the caregiver. Since the bulk of caregiver duties often fall to one member of a family, it’s essential to have not only Plan A, but Plan B, C, and often D in place to cover any contingency that arises.
It’s vitally important for caregivers to balance their needs with the needs of those they care for to avoid caregiver crunch, and this is where those back-up plans come in quite handy. When caregivers need to be away for any reason, a plan to ensure care continuity is good for not only the loved one needing care but the caregiver as well, helping to ease caregiver guilt, an emotion that can sabotage any caregiver. While it can be difficult to contemplate being away from a family member who clearly wants you and only you, it is imperative that caregivers have time away, not only to meet other family responsibilities, but also to simply regroup and re-energize before returning to caregiving.
Our goal at Senior Lifestyle is to provide the families we serve with guidance as they navigate the senior living journey, so we’ve provided a list of options for caregivers who need time away:
Meet with family members and make sure they understand the need for time away. Regularly scheduling a fill-in or a caregiver helper is a great way for the primary caregiver to get time away and assure themselves that someone else is trained properly to care for a loved one. This can be a source of comfort for the person needing care as well, as having a familiar face providing care helps provide consistency.
ADULT DAY CARE
Many communities have adult day services; if your loved one qualifies, these organizations can often help manage caregiving duties for families needing a break from caregiving, even if it’s only one day per week. Additionally, some adult day centers offer care on a drop-in basis. Check listings in your area for adult day services or speak to a social worker at your local senior center.
PROFESSIONAL IN-HOME CARE
In-home care agencies can often supplement the care provided by family members, and caregivers are trained to handle some tasks such as bathing that are difficult for family members to manage. Many agencies offer care on an hourly basis, so there is no major time and money commitment for families, and care is provided based specifically on the needs of your loved one.
Many Senior Lifestyle communities offer respite care. Respite care, or short-term care, can be a great option for family caregivers needing time away to attend to other responsibilities. Whether for a business trip or a vacation, respite care offers the same level of care your loved one receives at home, with the added bonus of social interaction and activities designed specifically for their interests. Respite care is a great way to “test-drive” a community as well; a short-term stay can help a loved one decide if living in a senior community feels like a good choice.
The caregiver crunch is real, and family caregivers need to find a workable balance between the needs of those they care for and themselves and their own needs; having a plan in place also helps caregivers avoid caregiver guilt when other responsibilities arise. At Senior Lifestyle we can help by providing guidance as families explore options such as in-home care and respite care. For more information on the options available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.