Many family caregivers find themselves unprepared for the physical and emotional demands of caring for a loved one and quickly become stressed and overloaded. When this occurs many caregivers find themselves unable to provide the level of care necessary to nurture their loved one at home. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to one of the following situations.
Situation One: Your aging loved one is living with you.
If you are working outside of the home or have a very active social calendar, then your loved one often finds him or herself at home alone for the greater part of the day. As a result he or she quite often becomes imprisoned by the home environment due to functional limitation. Receiving little or no social stimulus, your loved one spends day after day sleeping and watching television. Physical exercise consists of moving to or from the bathroom. Your loved one typically will not prepare a meal. Many times drinking and eating are deliberately avoided to lessen trips to the bathroom. When your loved one lacks adequate food and fluid intake the result is malnutrition and dehydration both of which result in poor mental reasoning and stupor; hence, the cycle of sleeping and television watching continues.
Solution: A home health aide is a great option if you wish to have your loved one remain in your home while being properly care for during your daily absences. A certified home health aide can assist with bathing, dressing, and grooming; take your loved one out to the local mall, senior center, or grocery store; or simply provide companionship. Your loved one is able to remain in your home while you gain peace of mind.
Situation Two: The care receiver lives alone
If your loved one is living alone but is unable to care for themselves properly, then your loved one could be guilty of self-neglect. Self-neglect is when a care recipient is not interested or is incapable of taking care of his or her own needs. Examples of self-neglect include not eating or drinking enough; not tending to personal hygiene including bathing and grooming; allowing garbage to accumulate within the home; having unattended pets, which urinate and defecate in living spaces; and refusing assistance. If you are providing care to a loved one who lives alone, it is imperative that you work to provide a stimulating environment for your loved one. Self-neglect with or without a caregiver is a form of elder abuse and in some states it is required by law that its existence be reported. A caregiver allowing self-neglect to happen could be criminally charged.
Solution: A home health aide can assist your loved one with meal preparation, bathing, dressing, grooming, housekeeping, and even pet care. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, then he or she may benefit from the services of a live-in caregiver. For increased social interaction have your loved one attend an adult day care center or senior center.
Situation Three: Failure to bring in outside help
The biggest mistake made by caregivers is not asking for help. The reasons for this vary. Sometimes the caregiver is a child, who is a long distance caregiver, and doesn’t fully appreciate the severity of the situation. Other times money can be the big motivator. Stressed and overwhelmed caregivers become so involved with their loved one that they isolate themselves from others. This isolation makes them reluctant to contact those who can help. Regardless of the cause, failure to ask for help or to hire help can have dire consequences on the welfare of the care recipient and the caregiver.
Solution: When assuming the responsibility of a family caregiver, it is important to enlist the help of outside professionals. Talk to a local home care agency about available options. While you may think that home care services aren’t affordable, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. Contact your local area agency on aging. If you are a long distance caregiver, then enlist the services of a Geriatric Care Manager so that there is someone locally managing your loved one’s care. A financial planner or reverse mortgage specialist may find funds to pay for professional in-home care services. An elder law attorney can help stave off future legal issues. Having a strong support system in place at the beginning will often make the difference between allowing a loved one to remain at home and needing to relocate to a nursing facility.
If you are the primary caregiver for another individual, then please do not allow yourself and your loved one to fall into one of the situations described above. Ask for help. Be involved. Know your options. Consider a Life Care Plan with Garland Law Offices — you won’t have to go it alone.