Care for the Caregiver
December 7, 2006
One of the most demanding roles that any of us can play is that of caregiver to some one we love. Dr. Mom tells the story of one family that has learned the secret of keeping it all in the family.
According to the Administration on Aging, more than 22.4 million persons are informal caregivers. These caregivers are spouses, adult children, and other relatives and friends that give care to loved ones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Caregiving can be a lonely and overwhelming task. Caregivers may experience many different emotions within a short period of time. These emotions range from fear, rage, grief, sadness, hope, and fatigue to dedication and love. With all the varying emotional and physical aspects of giving care to your loved one, it comes as no surprise that many caregivers experience burnout.
Caregivers oftentimes become so involved in the day-to-day efforts to keep things going they may fail to realize that they need a break from their daily responsibilities.
Some activities that may give a caregiver may include in their daily activities are:
- Take a break from caregiving. Even if it is only 15 or 20 minutes a day. Make sure you do something just for you.
- Exercise. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes, three times a week. This is a great way to take a break, decrease stress and enhance your energy.
- Eat healthy. To help give you more energy, avoid foods that are high in
- Saturated fats
- Salts, chemical preservatives and additives
- Eat three meals a day. Your health and nutrition is just as important as the person you are caring for.
- Subscribe to caregiving newsletters for advice/support
- Attend a support group for caregivers. Support groups are becoming ever popular for caregivers. In support groups you will be able to, not only share your problems, but also listen to others who have gone through similar situations. You will give and receive help and support. Check with your doctor, hospice of local area Agency on Aging for groups that meet for this purpose.
- Seek professional help. Many caregivers have times when they are lonely, anxious, guilty, angry, scared, frustrated, confused, lost and tired. If you feel like these feelings are overwhelming you, call your doctor, hospice or another community resource for help.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program established in 2000, calls for all states working in partnership with area agencies on aging and local community-service providers to have five basic services for family caregivers.
These services include:
- Information to caregivers about available services
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to services
- Individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training to caregivers to assist the caregivers in making decisions and solving problems relating to their caregiving roles
- Respite care to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved from caregiving responsibilities;
- Supplemental services, on a limited basis to complement the care provided by caregivers.
The American Red Cross has developed a Family Caregiver Program, a nine session educational program for family caregivers. As part of the program, they have produced individual booklets on the subject area of each module as well as a video.
The sessions include:
You may contact the Smith County Red Cross:
- Assisting with Personal Care
- Positioning and Helping Your Loved One Move
- General Caregiving Skills
- Home Safety
- Healthy Eating
- Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia
- Caring for a Loved One with HIV/AIDS
- Legal and Financial Issues
- Caring for the Caregiver
More resources include:
- 320 E. Rieck Road
PO Box 8588
Tyler, Texas 75711