Caring for a senior loved one can be an incredibly rewarding experience for family members, but it comes with its challenges. As senior’s age and their faculties lessen, the number of “bad” days often increases, which can be difficult for family members to deal with.Though everyone’s health and wellness progresses at different speeds, there are identifiable stages of caregiving.
As a caregiver, it is important to recognize these stages, adjust to the changing needs of the senior, and care for yourself at the same time.
Stages of Caregiving
Caregiver Solutions has summarized the caregiving experience into 5 main stages, each with their own challenges. The stages are presented as:
- Stage 1 – Children see their loved ones aging and believe they need care, though they are usually self-sufficient.
- Stage 2 – Seniors need some care, but they resist help from individuals outside of their family.
- Stage 3 – Seniors struggle with pain and/or disabilities and are receptive to outside help.
- Stage 4 – Seniors health or cognitive function declines and they require around the clock supervision.
- Stage 5 – Seniors require 24-hour institutional care.
Stress and Burn-Out
Through each of these stages, especially during the transitions, caregivers may experience increasing stress. From anxiety and exhaustion to neglecting one’s own needs and responsibilities, there are many signs of caregiver burn-out. Caregiver burn-out can take a physical and mental toll, making it more difficult for them to provide quality care.
If you experience declining health or mental acuity as a caregiver, the first thing you should do is ask for help. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that between 40 and 70% of caregivers show signs of clinical depression, so you are not alone in the struggle. There is no shame or embarrassment in asking for help. Not only should you consult a doctor for medical attention, but you should take advantage of a service like the one we provide. Our in-home care services are not only designed to aid seniors, but their loved ones as well!
Aside from asking for help, there are a few things you can do to combat the feelings of helplessness and resentment that may come with long-term caregiving:
- Make time to do things you enjoy, like getting a massage or enjoying a night on the town. A little self-care can go a long way towards improving your overall wellbeing!
- Talk to a friend or family member about your feelings and experiences. This is a great way to work through your frustrations. A little venting never hurts!
- Don’t forget to celebrate the little victories! Did you finally get your loved one in the bath? Did they unexpectedly thank you for your help? These are incredible milestones that should be recognized!
If you take away one thing from all of this, let it be that you are not powerless, helpless, or ill-equipped as a caretaker. There will always be challenges and difficult days, but you can meet those challenges head on with a little help!