How to Know the Signs and Explore Support Options
Every year, the month of November is dedicated to family caregivers and the important role they play in their loved ones’ daily lives. Not just during National Family Caregivers Month, but always, The Wesley Communities strive to be a resource for caregivers to better understand their options and to know that they are not alone when full-time care becomes too much.
The Role of Family Caregivers
Family caregivers play a critical role in providing care to their loved ones. Whether it’s help with medicine administration and bathing, or 24/7 assistance, many family members make personal sacrifices to dedicate their time and attention to their loved ones’ needs. The selfless decision to take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one has many benefits and brings a level of comfort to everyone involved. Often, however, the role can become overwhelming. In some cases, it can become too much to handle, creating a need for family caregiver relief. So, how does a family caregiver know when they can no longer play the role on their own, and what options they have when that day comes?
Signs that Indicate Caregiver Burnout
One of the biggest indications that more care may be needed for a loved one is a sudden, and significant, physical or cognitive decline. Although family caregivers can provide a lot of support, when additional health resources are needed, it may be wise to seek professional assistance. Another option for determining when more care is needed is for family caregivers to look within themselves and evaluate how they feel. Obviously, caring for a loved one brings difficulties no matter the circumstances, but if solving these difficulties feels out of reach and if personal stress and feelings of helplessness start creeping in, it’s most likely time to ask for help.
Options for Family Caregivers
Reaching out for help can be scary, and may make family caregivers feel guilty about no longer providing for their loved ones on their own. This isn’t the right way to look at it, though. Family caregivers should be proud of themselves for realizing when their loved one’s care needs are out of their control and for taking the right steps to provide their loved one with the care they really need. Plus, this doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” transition. With a variety of care options available, you’re sure to find the one that works best for your loved one and you.
Adult daycare can be a wonderful option for family caregivers who need a break to focus on themselves for a few hours a day. Their loved one will be in the care of trained professionals and have opportunities to learn, grow, and socialize. This is also a slower and more comfortable transition for both caregivers and those who need care. Family caregivers can still provide for their loved one, albeit with some additional support.
Assisted Living Community
Assisted living communities are a great option for family caregivers who no longer can provide the care their loved one needs. These types of communities typically offer only assisted living care – as opposed to continuing care retirement communities – and are staffed by professionals skilled in assistive support such as medication administration, help with bathing, and 24/7 availability for health matters that may arise. Residents in assisted living communities also have opportunities to participate in fulfilling activities to help them grow physically, mentally, and socially.
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
Continuing care retirement communities provide a continuum of care to support their residents through every stage of life. With assisted living, memory support, and skilled nursing, residents can transition to the level of care they need when they need it most. This can be an attractive option for family caregivers whose loved one needs additional care provided in a setting that they can stay in forever without having to transition again down the road. A key benefit of CCRCs is that residents never need to leave the community and transition to another one. The only transitions are from one level of care to another. Often, this provides great peace of mind when health needs progress.
Discussing the Transition with your Loved One
The conversation with a loved one for whom you can no longer care is a difficult one. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind to help make the discussion a little easier.
- Focus the conversation on your loved one rather than yourself. Their care is the main priority here, and you don’t want to give the impression that you are putting yourself and your needs before theirs. Let them know that their health requires more than you can give and highlight the benefits, especially safety, your loved one will reap from the transition.
- Talk about the fun and exciting parts of your loved one making a transition. With fulfilling activities, delicious meals, and opportunities to make friends, your loved one may realize that a move is right for them.
- Let your loved one know that you aren’t going anywhere. They may think that a transition means you will no longer be in their life as much. Ensure them that you are still by their side and will support them every step of the way as they embark on this new journey.
Knowing the signs that a loved one needs a higher level of care than a family member can provide, and exploring supportive options that are available, will help family caregivers and their loved ones live life well. At The Wesley Communities, we are always available to talk with families to learn more about their current situations and the options we can offer to help.