With more elderly remaining in place as they age, the
responsibility of providing care, support, and companionship falls to family
members. While the spirit is willing, in most cases,
the body is sometimes not physically capable of providing safe, effective, and quality care for loved ones.
This is especially true of senior caregivers themselves who share the burden of care for an elderly parent or relative.
Senior caregivers face a number of challenges in providing quality care for a parent. Some of those challenges include but are not limited to:
Many senior or older caregivers caring for an elderly loved one hurt themselves in providing such care. Most common injuries occur in the bathroom as caregivers try to help a loved one get into or out of the bathtub.
Slips and falls are as common among the elderly as they are their non-professional caregivers. Such injuries can hamper a caregiver’s efforts to provide safe and adequate care for months, if not years.
Proper training is essential in caring for the elderly. Safety is primary and many caregivers, through no fault of their own, are not trained in proper body positioning, ergonomics, prevention of bedsores or decubitus ulcers, in preventing slips and falls, or how to deal with challenging behaviors expressed by those diagnosed with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's. In such cases, a caregiver can grow increasingly frustrated and stressed, leading to burnout and illness.
As a caregiver of an elderly loved one, a physically
disabled or paralyzed family member, or a family member diagnosed with
dementia, it's important to know and understand as much about the condition of
the person you're helping as possible.
It can be physically challenging and difficult to provide care for a bed bound, overweight, or frail loved one. If a caregiver isn't strong enough to properly turn, transfer, or ambulate such individuals, accidents can happen.
Many senior caregivers are spouses and adult children of parents diagnosed with various forms of dementia including Alzheimer's. The progression of the disease is insidious and demands more time, attention, and preventive measures than many imagine.
When it comes to the physically disabled, it's important for caregivers to know how to transfer safely from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to sofa, and so forth. Helping anyone into or out of the vehicle for medical appointments can also be challenging and risky.
Trained professionals are educated in a variety of care scenarios and can provide such care safely, effectively, and all the while ensuring as much independence and heightened quality of life for a care recipient as possible. Keep in mind that while your spirit may be willing, your body may not be up to the task.
One of the most common issues that plague senior caregivers, and most long-term caregivers for that matter, is burnout. No matter how much you want to provide quality care for your loved one, it does get physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting for many. This is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Everyone needs a break once in a while. This is especially true of senior caregivers caring for a terminally ill spouse, parent, or other family member.
No matter how long you've been providing whatever care you
can for a loved one, do give yourself a break on a regular basis. It doesn't matter whether you've only
provided care for a couple of weeks or for years - it's important to give
yourself the rest you deserve.
Don't feel guilty about taking a break or asking someone else to fill in. Caregiving agencies are available, and in most cases, so are other family members.
Only by giving yourself a break and stepping away from the caregiving situation, whether it's for a few hours or for a week or two, can you continue providing caring, compassionate, and effective (as well as safe) high quality care for your loved one.