Most family caregivers agree that one of the most important coping mechanisms during their journey of providing care for an elderly loved one is emotional support. However, when people are suddenly faced with the challenge of providing care for the elderly, they are often unsure of where to turn for the moral support that they need to maintain their own emotional wellbeing.
In this post, we’ll look at the top 5 support systems for family caregivers:
1. Family & Friends:
Although this may seem like the obvious top pick, individuals providing at home care for a senior family member often find that loved ones are the most constant and accessible source of support.
Married individuals should take the time to sit down with their spouse to discuss the kind of support that they can provide; from helping with dinner to simply acting as someone to vent to, letting spouses know how they can help you cope will help them navigate the challenges of family caregiving, too. However, also utilize your family members and social circles as a source of relaxation. Take time to enjoy dinner out, movies together or other activities to take a break from caregiving with the people who lift your spirits.
It is also important to let them know just how hard it is to be a family caregiver. Family caregiving increases risk of premature death, job loss and wage loss, and is associated with high rates of depression, as described in our article, "Caregiver Wellbeing." Educating them on the very real stresses of caregiving can help your friends and family realize the magnitude of what you are dealing with and the need to provide you with support
2.Professional Care Providers
As seniors choosing to age in place require more care, it is imperative that family caregivers feel comfortable with enlisting the help of professional care providers. In-home care agencies can provide support by allowing family caregivers to feel comfortable leaving their loved one while they run errands, take a weekend off or open up their schedule when work or their own families need more attention.
In-home elder care agencies that utilize ClearCare homecare software can provide exceptional support by providing real-time transparency for family members to be kept abreast of care updates while professional caregivers are taking the lead for a bit. And they make it easier for you to coordinate the daily care schedules through the shared calendar and reporting features.
3. Support Groups:
Support groups exist for family caregivers of all kinds. Whether you’re keeping a watchful eye over someone with Alzheimer’s, helping a senior with Multiple Sclerosis work through their daily tasks, or helping keep the home of a senior feeling the effects of aging, there is a support group for you! By connecting with peers, family caregivers will be able to vent their frustrations, discuss successes and gather ideas from a group of individuals going through similar struggles and triumphs. Check with your local department of aging, senior center or aging associations for a listing of local support groups.
4. Elder Care Associations:
Many seniors are afflicted with some kind of medical condition that affects their ability to live independently without the assistance of a family caregiver. Some common conditions include Alzheimer’s, heart disease, Multiple Sclerosis, varying types of cancer or even just the common ailments of aging. Take advantage of the support provided by these organizations, which includes support groups, advice from professionals, recommendations to elder care agencies or healthcare providers and even outings for the elderly and their caregivers! And the best part: most of these agencies are non-profit and provide their services for free. Check out the Alzheimer’s Association, Multiple Sclerosis Society , AARP, American Heart Association or American Cancer Society.
5. Professional Care Managers:
When the stresses of managing medical appointments, planning for long-term care, hiring a homecare agency, and being there for a senior loved one seems overwhelming, a professional care manager may be just the kind of support you need. These trained individuals will act as a source of trusted advice and help with the nitty-gritty details of ensuring seniors and their families are prepared for the care journey. Check your local yellow pages, or with your local aging authority for recommendations to a trusted care manager.