Easing the Caregiver Burden by Accepting Help

By M. Chris Wolf, PH.D.

What do we mean by caregiver burden? Taking an elderly person into your home and caring for them is a huge commitment, which can bring many problems and anxieties. Whether you are sharing your home with your elderly mother who is fit and mentally sound, or watch over a person who is seriously disabled physically or mentally, the caregiver role is often a heavy one.

The caregiver may find this work is demanding in physical terms, especially if the person being cared for needs help with mobility. Lifting a mobility-challenged person into and out of bed may be difficult, especially if the one doing the lifting is getting along in years. Sometimes an older person may need to use the toilet more than once in the night, and this can leave the caregiver short of sleep and exhausted. Extra work may be needed to prepare an older person's food, as he or she may be on a special diet or otherwise unable to eat the same food as the rest of the family.

The caregiver burden may also be a financial one. Perhaps the one providing care has chosen to give up a job in order to tend to their loved one at home, and medications or special equipment may need to be purchased.

Additionally, isolation and negative feelings may develop after months or years of continuous extra work and being bound to the home. Often a caregiver will keep such feelings suppressed until they possibly evolve into depression.

Often, the solution is to share the caregiver tasks, rather than carry worries that can grow. If the person you care for is mentally alert, it is important to share decisions with him or her so that you are both happy about any changes being made. Older people have a lifetime of experience, and quite often can provide useful suggestions. Include the rest of the family in conversations concerning adult care. Other siblings may be in a position to help out financially, or might be able to take over for short periods of time, giving you a much-needed rest. If the caregiver burden is extensive, as it might be in the case of a seriously disabled person, discuss sharing the care equally between two or more family members.

Technology Can Help

According to a recent story on the St. Petersburg station Channel 13, wearing an 'EmFinders' bracelet can save the life of a loved one who may have wondered off. Whether it’s a child with autism or a family member with dementia, the tacking device inside the watch can track people. Family just calls 911 and the device is activated. A few minutes later the police know exactly where the person is located and they can be quickly found. The device costs about $200 but has been a life saver. The device is being used at the Rocky River Senior Center in Ohio and in the St Petersburg Bay area as well as other areas around the country.

Finally, don't forget that government departments and voluntary organizations exist that can advise and give practical help to ease the caregiving burden, and lend moral support to those who give care.

Also visit:

Improve Your Memory

Caregiving Resources

Handling Stress

Stress and Memory Loss

Home Instead Senior Care

Medication Communication with Medical Providers

Removing Barriers to Communication with Physicians

Return from Caregiver Burden to Caregiver Stress


Memory Loss Facts

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