The Demands of Senior Health Care Can Overwhelm Family Caregivers

Many caregivers feel like the whole world depends upon them; they can feel isolated and overwhelmed. Fulltime caregivers often convince themselves that they cannot delegate tasks or trust other people to do things right. Care management thus becomes more than a full-time job: it becomes an all-consuming lifestyle.

Providing memory care for a loved one with dementia or other advanced memory loss can be even more demanding, and exhaustion can have a pretty severe effect on your mood.
But you don’t have to do everything on your own. There are support mechanisms that can help you cope.

Look for family members and community services that can offer assistance.

The truth is that you need to find help if you want to keep yourself healthy and sane.

Allow yourself to trust family members or friends to help you perform routine tasks, or to watch your loved one when you need downtime. You can also seek support from other caregivers in your community.

The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation can both help to connect you with support groups in your area, where you can network, receive tips from, and develop strategies with other people in your same position.

Find ways to relax. Everyone needs some downtime.
Too many caregivers focus on meeting all the needs of their loved ones, but refuse to take time for themselves. You can’t function if you are stressed all day, every day.

You might try the following:
•Visualization. Picture yourself in a place of calm. Whenever things become hard to deal with, take five minutes and imagine yourself there.
•Meditation. Allow yourself time not to think. Choose a quiet place, sit down and listen to the silence. 15 minutes a day should be enough to help center you.
•Breathing exercises. Progressively slow down and breathe deeply.
•Yoga or Pilates are time-proven methods for strengthening your core and balancing your thoughts.
•Schedule a massage. Regular massage therapy releases oxytocin, which inhibits stress hormones and can help your brain tamp down stress reactions, making you more physiologically able to relax.
•Exercise. Leave yourself 30 minutes a day for moderate to rigorous activity, such as running, aerobics, dancing, or lifting weights. Exercise releases endorphins — neurotransmitters chemically similar to analgesic medications. They naturally increase a person’s feelings of well-being.

Make time for yourself.
That’s easier said than done, in many cases, but necessary. There are resources and services out there that can help you carve out a niche for your personal time. If your loved one’s memory support needs are growing, you need to think about bringing in some outside help.

In-Home Nursing Care
Scheduling a few hours per day or week for a home health aide or nurse to assist in your loved one’s care can give you a break and provide a better medical safety net in case of a sudden decline.

Adult Day Care
These programs provide temporary memory support for dementia patients with mild to moderate cognitive dysfunction. The safe, well-monitored environment gives seniors a chance to socialize with peers and gives you time out to meet your own needs.

Realize that sometimes the job is simply too big to handle.
As dementia progresses, providing care at home may become too difficult for an untrained caregiver to manage.

You may need to consider an assisted living or nursing center with a memory support unit. These specialized residences provide secure memory care in ways that are non-intrusive and that maintain your loved one’s dignity.

The Health Care Management Group operates several retirement and physical rehabilitation facilities in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. We are where living continues.