Stress, financial predicaments and depression. These are inevitable outcomes of providing unanticipated caregiving services to an aging family member. The emotional and financial toll of providing emergency home care to an elderly person who experiences a sudden injury or illness can become a caregiving crisis—one which family caregivers can appropriately weather with learned skill.
Crisis #1: Finances
Since Medicare will not pay for long-term care, families are left to take care of their elderly loved ones. Unless the senior was prepared early on with long-term care insurance, family members struggle to financially cover their loved ones’ care needs, including medications, food and ongoing medical bills.
Given the exorbitant costs of long-term care insurance, many older adults forgo purchasing a policy. Yet, one in four seniors will need long-term care. For families with limited financial assets, the situation is incredibly taxing. Qualifying for Medicaid is a solution for people who fall near the poverty line.
Congress has initiated tax breaks and incentives to encourage seniors to age at home, which is less costly than institutional care. Legislators are aware of the increasing costs of caregiving and continue to work on measures to help curb the financial crisis of caring for the growing population of seniors.
Seventy-five percent of seniors in the US live with multiple chronic conditions, including ailments like dementia or diabetes. Families should be prepared to cover expenses, from ongoing doctor’s visits to home modifications, to support a loved one with a condition like dementia.
Families can prepare financially for the costs of caring for a senior by creating a budget, replenish emergency funds and contribute to a retirement account. Most importantly, family caregivers should purchase long-term care insurance for themselves to plan for their own aging.
Crisis #2: Depression
A roller coaster of emotions accompanies the financial stresses of caregiving. Some family caregivers suffer intense feelings that contribute to their malaise. These individuals become too preoccupied with caregiving duties to tend to their own healthcare and suffer the ill consequences.
Twenty percent of caregivers develop depression, which can manifest in a myriad of ways: exhaustion, feeling inadequate, loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities and becoming easily agitated. Depressed caregivers may gain or lose weight unintentionally and experience changes in their sleep quality.
Even mild depression should be treated immediately to prevent a lapse into a severe depressive state. Caregivers who make time to stay socially active, set realistic goals and break up large tasks into smaller, reasonable ones tend to evade an onset of depression.
Caregivers who are in the midst of a depressive state can gradually ease out of it over time. Improvements in mood occur as positive thoughts replace negative ones and as caregivers lean on family and friends for support. Important decisions should be delayed until the depression lifts.
Additionally, caregivers may seek therapy from counselors who are experienced with senior caregiving issues. Consulting a physician may result in prescription medications that help improve depressed moods. Caregivers should also exercise, which is a proven way to help relieve symptoms of depression.
Crisis #3: Isolation
Loneliness can result when the caregiver remains focused on a care recipient and lacks social support. Caregivers who are no longer available to socialize may lose contact with friends. Remaining solely dedicated to caregiving can strip the caregiver of a healthy sense of self.
Isolation is disastrous for both the caregiver and the care recipient. After all, a caregiver who is lonely is unlikely to be able to provide the highest level of focused, compassionate care that the aging individual needs. Fortunately, isolation and loneliness can be relieved for the betterment of all involved.
Respite care is invaluable. A few hours out of the home provides a breath of fresh air to family caregivers. A change of scenery is uplifting and promotes a positive outlook. Respite care may be hired so that the caregiver can attend social events and dodge the dreariness of isolation.
Caregiving is rarely a one-person job. A wide circle of social support is necessary to engage in caregiving activities in the healthiest way possible. A network of friends, religious community, family members and neighbors keep the caregiver emotionally well-balanced and nurtured.
Crisis #4: Grief
Grief can manifest even before the aging care recipient has passed. Anticipatory grief occurs when the senior with dementia, for instance, no longer resembles the person she once was. Caregivers helplessly witness their care recipients’ gradual decline. As a result, anxiety and sadness plague the caregiver.
Alternately, caregivers experience a sense of loss of their independence. This type of grief ensues when the caregiver’s own life has undergone drastic changes to accommodate the aging loved one’s needs. The caregiver may have sacrificed a career or lost friends to be able to provide care.
Support groups, therapists and friends offer comfort in times of anguish. Sharing moments of sadness with people who understand can help the caregiver better tolerate feelings of grief. Caregivers who take care of themselves are best able to withstand the tumultuous feelings that accompany caregiving.
Prevent a crisis in your life by preparing financially and emotionally for the anticipated factors of caregiving. Assisting Hands Home Care offers a wealth of elder care support services to help the family member handle the myriad aspects of caregiving and provide the senior with compassionate attention.
Our respite services are available on short notice or well in advance, so that you can attend your own doctor’s visits or socialize with friends. Assisting Hands Home Care professionals will provide dependable care to your loved one while you are away.
Designed to relieve stress, respite services ensure the family caregiver has every opportunity to revitalize her energy levels prior to returning to caregiving responsibilities. Family caregivers who enlist respite care services experience a remarkably low risk of depression.
Assisting Hands Home Care provides a wealth of non-medical elder care services in addition to respite care. Consult team members from our home care agency, which services Naperville, Illinois, and Cook and DuPage Counties, to learn about our comprehensive range of senior care services