Who is a caregiver?
A caregiver of an elder may be a family member, friend or professional who provides physical, financial or emotional support for a relative or loved one whose daily activities are limited by diminished mental or physical function. Most adult children do not recognize themselves as caregivers. They accept additional responsibilities as a natural part of their relationship with the older person. Caregivers may live with the elder or nearby. Some may even live across the country. But no matter where they live, their responsibilities may include providing personal care or finding and managing supplemental care in the local community. They may organize an elder’s home health care services, transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping or other chores, or help manage finances.
I’ve suddenly found myself in the role of long distance caregiver. I’m confused, where do I begin?
Caring from across the miles often complicates an already emotionally tenuous situation, but assistance, support and direction is available. To find out more about our Family Caregiver Support Program contact Elder Services of Worcester Area at 508-756-1545. Our case managers are also a helpful option. These case managers or nurses specialize in assessing the needs of elderly people and matching them with services available.
How can I best deal with the stresses of being a caregiver?
If you are a caregiver, you have a huge responsibility. It’s natural that it would wear on you after awhile. This is especially true if you also have children to look after. That’s why it is important to build in regular relief. Otherwise, you could suffer from “burnout.” This relief is sometimes known as “respite care.” Respite care can be available from services such as: Companions, Social day Care, and Adult Day Health. Home Health Aide services and Personal Care is also available. Please contact Information and Referral at 508-756-1545 for more information. It’s important to ask for help. Having no help can put a caregiver’s health in jeopardy.
What are signs of caregiver burnout?
These may include:
- Feelings of helplessness
- Fatigue or changes in sleep patterns
- Withdrawal from friends
- Withdrawal from activities you usually enjoy
- Increase in the use of stimulants or alcohol
- Change in eating habit
- Becoming sick more often and ignoring your health
- Anger and irritability
- Lack of concentration
You may experience only some of these symptoms but may still need to look at ways to address them.
What can a caregiver do to prevent caregiver burnout?
Which stands for:
- Eat right
- Communicate your needs to others
- Hydrate yourself
- Accept help
- Get Respite
- Get enough sleep
(Adapted from Today’s Caregiver Magazine)
Other ways to get help:
- Attend a support group
- Establish a quiet time for yourself everyday
- Stay involved in hobbies
- Watch a funny movie
- Listen to your favorite music
- Consult with a professional to explore burnout issues
- Recruit a family or friend or hire someone to spend an occasional night for an uninterrupted night of sleep
- Promote independence by letting your loved one do whatever they can themselves
- Learn stress management and relaxation techniques
The best way to prevent depression, frustration and resentment that can cause caregiver burnout is to make time for you.
How can I find out about support groups in my area?
You can call Elder Services of Worcester Area at 508 756-1545 and ask to speak with the Caregiver Specialist or the Information and Referral Department. They can provide you with an updated list, which includes meeting times, contact persons and telephone numbers.
How can I get more information about the Central Massachusetts Family Caregiver Support Program?
You can call Elder Services of Worcester Area at 508 756-1545 and ask to speak with the Information and Referral Department. You can also contact us through our online inquiry form by clicking here.
For more information related to Caregiving, please visit our Family Caregiver Support Program page, and check our respite-related links.
Click here for Caregiver Support Groups including Grandparents Raising Grandchildren