Often the care duties fall to the spouse when one person is healthy and the other has more involved health needs. In the case of seniors, the healthier spouse may overlook their own aging abilities and health concerns. Providing additional care helps relieve some of the burden so both partners can enjoy their senior years to the fullest. It's often left to the children to monitor their parent's health, especially if one parent is acting as a full time caregiver.
Signs That a Break Is Needed
Keep an eye on the caregiver to make sure they are attending to their health and not fast approaching burnout or their own health crisis. Signs to look for include:
Missed doctor appointments. Often, the caregiver will skip their own regular appointments because they are too busy with their spouse.
Poor dietary habits. If you notice weight gain or weight loss, the stress could be becoming too much.
Mood changes or mood swings. These can appear in a variety of ways – outbursts of anger or sadness, or a creeping depression. You may also see a rise in blaming or critical behavior towards the spouse or other family members.
Lack of outside interests. If your care giving parent is abandoning friends, hobbies or activities they used to enjoy, consider this a danger sign of burnout.
What You Can Do
Your care giving parent may not feel comfortable asking for help, so you will need to offer first. Even if the offer is declined, it's best for the health of both your parents that you begin quietly taking on some of the burden.
Offer to drive to doctor's appointments or to take over care giving duties for the day to provide a break. If possible, take over duties at the same time every week. This will give the caregiver a chance to meet with friends or rejoin an activity or hobby they love.
Be proactive with both parent's medical conditions. Open up the conversation on healthcare, and ask for permission to attend doctor's appointments or to review medication and treatment plans. This allows you to monitor the health of your parents and make sure they are both taking care of themselves during a stressful time.
If you don't live nearby or if the care giving duties are intense, look into bringing in senior in-home care. Care providers come in many forms. You can hire someone to provide meals and basic home maintenance, freeing your caregiver parent from these extra responsibilities. A daytime nurse is another option. The nurse will handle care giving duties for a few hours each day, giving the spouse time to relax, leave the home or tend to household chores.
If much of the caregivers time is taken up with shuttling their spouse to doctor's appointments or therapy sessions, consider hiring therapists and nurses to come and perform tests and therapies in the home. This can alleviate a lot of stress and save time.
The most important thing you can do is let both your parents know that they are not in this alone. A little help and a lot of support can make the senior years more enjoyable for both your parents. To learn more, contact a company like ComForcare Home Care - South Orange County with any questions you have.Share
16 January 2015
When my mother fell at home and broke her hip, we all thought that we were going to have no choice to put her in a nursing home when she got out of the hospital. My mother had always asked us kids to avoid putting her in any kind of home, but we didn’t know what else we could do. None of us were capable of giving her the kind of rehabilitation and care that she needed. Then her doctor suggested that we find out if her insurance covered in-home care. I didn’t even know that that was an option. I was pleased to discover that in-home care was covered by her plan. Now she gets great care from nurses and nurse assistants that come right to her in her home, where she wants to be. It’s a great option, and I’m so glad we have it.