Caregiving: The Good And The Not-so Good

caregiving woman to elderly

Elder Care Thought Leader: Cynthia Perthuis

A caregiver is a person who takes care of someone who, because of an illness, disability, or injury, is experiencing difficulty in caring for him or herself.

“Caregivers can assist with or perform almost all of the activities of daily living.”

Scope Of Caregiving:

The scope of caregiving is virtually limitless. Caregivers can assist with or perform almost all of the activities of daily living. They pick up the mail and help get the bills paid. They give baths and change adult briefs.

Moreover, they deal with endless medical issues like searching providers, scheduling appointments, researching diagnosis, battling insurances, as well as organizing and administering medications. And they cook and clean and provide meals. Most of the time, they do all of this with the hopes of making someone’s life easier or better. It can be a 24/7 undertaking and the pay is either low or non-existent.

Demands Of Caregiving:

There is a high level of stress involved in taking care of another person. The stress can be both physical and mental. And the demands of caregiving on the mind and the body can take their toll on even the most willing and devoted family member.

However, trying to balance your needs with those of the person you are caring for is essential. Studies have shown that family caregivers suffer from depression quite often. In fact, 67% of caregivers (over the age of 70) die before the person for which they care. Additionally, studies also show that neglecting your own mental health will negatively affect your loved one.  

“Treat yourself. Go do something you enjoy when you have the opportunity.”

8 Helpful Tips To Manage Your Mental Health:

  1. Don’t diminish your work and all that you do. What you are doing makes a real difference in the life of your family member. You are giving them a tremendous gift. Embrace the importance of your role. 
  2. Remain involved in the outside world. Continue to do hobbies that you’ve always enjoyed. Stay connected to friends and other family members. You may not find the same amount of time as you used to, but even 30 minutes once a week can make a big difference in your own mental health.
  3. Celebrate the good days. 
  4. When the days are really hard, remember that it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It’s just hard. 
  5. Control what you can and let the rest go. 
  6. Ask for help. People want to help, but they don’t always know how. Find something other people can do for you and then ask them. They may say no, or they may not do it exactly as you would like them to do, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. 
  7. Find someone to talk to. You may need a counselor or just a close friend but be sure there is someone you can talk to about your situation.
  8. Treat yourself. Go do something you enjoy when you have the opportunity. This might be 15 minutes of silence, going for a walk or watching your guilty pleasure. Whatever it is, treat yourself.

Taxing- Mentally & Physically:

Caregiving is not just mentally taxing; it can also be physically taxing. Many caregivers (usually untrained) suffer from injuries from the physical demands of caring for an elderly family member. Until you’ve lifted a 180-pound adult who has fallen in the shower, you may not realize just how difficult it is. Even just helping someone get into and out of the bed or a chair can put strain on the caregiver’s back and joints. 

One great way to protect yourself from injury is investing in caregiving equipment. There is a lot of equipment available to help with tasks like transferring in and out of bed, on and off toilets, getting out of a chair, etc. but many families don’t realize aide devices are available or they feel like they cannot afford it.

Equipment like transfer boards, gait belts, or hydraulic lifts can reduce the physical strain on the caregiver’s body as well as the person for which they care. Investing in equipment to help avoid injury is not a luxury, but a necessity at times. 

“We understand the good, the bad and the ugly of caregiving.”

Challenging Transitions:

Everyone at Senior Care Authority has been, or currently is, a caregiver to a family member. We understand the good, the bad and the ugly of caregiving. If you need expert advice navigating the care choices your loved one deserves, we are ready to assist you. 

Sometimes families need help with navigating challenging transitions and a complex healthcare system. This can include facilitating essential conversations between family members, locating an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility, home care agency or caregiver selection, long distance caregiving, finding the right resources and learning how to access them, or regular visits to your loved one, providing you with “peace of mind” when you are unable to visit.

Having someone on your care team, who is outside the emotional landscape of the family, can be a life saver. Imagine a go-to person you can turn to who will do the research, talk to providers, organize paperwork, or find those “needle in a haystack” resources. Don’t hesitate to look for resources and help, it can make all difference to you as the caregiver.

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Cynthia Perthuis

About the Author:

Cynthia Perthuis left her cushy life in Corporate America in 2018 to use her personal experience with her parents and her entrepreneurial background to help the 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the US. The stress of helping aging loved ones and working full-time and caring for her own family while living over 1500 miles apart was overwhelming at times. She often wished there was a non-conflicted industry professional to help when facing these life-changing decisions. She has created her team at Senior Care Authority (www.scanyfl.com) for that purpose. Her team supports over 300 families a year as they navigate these decisions. For a free consultation, contact Senior Care Authority at 239-330-2133.