We’ve all heard the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child however, it also takes a village to care for an aging loved one. If you are finding yourself in the role of family caregiver you are likely overwhelmed on any given day with the responsibilities you have to your immediate family, let alone the extra stress of caring for an aging loved one.
Below are some examples of members of the village that are essential to making sure all of your loved ones’ needs are met.
Family- Hopefully you have lots of family near by to help take on some of the caregiving duties and give you a much needed break. Oftentimes caring for a loved one is a 24/7 job, especially if diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia are in the mix. Having the support of family to help share in the responsibility and ease your burden can make caregiving much more manageable. You will also find great comfort in knowing that someone else (your family member) is going through the same exact situation and can identify with how you are feeling. If you don’t have family near by consider joining a caregiver support group.
Friends/Neighbors- Trusted friends and neighbors are essential to success. They are usually willing to help last minute when you’re stuck in traffic and need to check on your loved one; or if your loved one calls you in the middle of a hectic work day needing assistance. These same friends and neighbors may also help ease your burden by picking something up for you at the grocery store while they’re already there or keeping an eye on your children while you tend to your aging loved one. Remember, it’s okay to accept help.
Physicians- Your aging loved one likely has a whole team of physicians overseeing their care. Cardiologists, Oncologists, Internal Medicine, Optometrists… the list goes on and on. The physician’s role as a member of the caring village is to act as a mechanic, making sure things are running smoothly and when they aren’t- diagnose and treat the problem. You may find that if your loved one is being seen by multiple specialists your biggest challenge is making sure each physician is up to date and completely aware of your loved ones current conditions and treatments.
Care Manager- You can think of care managers as a professional neighbor or surrogate family member. Care managers ensure that a client is receiving the necessary care and advocates on behalf of the client. Management of care is especially important if your loved one is geographically separated from most family, or if you feel like your loved one needs additional services but you aren’t sure what they are or where to start. Care Managers specialize in coordinating community services to make sure their client’s receive the care and services most suitable for their unique situation. These professionals can even accompany your loved one to physician appointments if you are unable to attend. They know the questions to ask and can give a full report to you on what took place.
Home Health Care- In home health care or private duty home care can be one of your biggest assets. Whether you only take advantage of their services once a month to give yourself a break, or every day to ensure your loved one’s daily needs are met, these agencies offer peace of mind to family caregivers. They also help relieve some of the guilt that is often associated with caregiving. Because many caregivers have full time jobs and many other commitments they can not spend as much time with their aging loved ones as they feel they should. Having care in the home allows your loved one to have someone to socialize with in addition to ensuring their safety.
Who is in your caring village?