Juggling it all: How caregivers can find support
Patients in long-term home care or nursing homes are the focus of elderly care, but the stress on a caregiver often gets overlooked. The burden of looking after a loved one who has limited independence can effect a caregiver’s physical and mental health and keep you from providing adequate care.
The stress of decision making and physical demands can take a toll on caregivers, and often doctors are not trained to provide the answers or support that caregivers need.
“Caregivers don’t have a natural place to go,” said Dorothy Davis, executive director of the Long-Term Care at Home division for Visiting Nurse Health System, Georgia’s largest nonprofit home healthcare and hospice provider.
These resources can help you tend to your loved ones and give you time and space to care for yourself.
Caring for them
Many adult day care facilities in the Atlanta area provide social stimulation and a change of scenery while giving you time to run errands or recharge.
One adult day care program, offered through the state’s Division of Aging Services, is aimed at improving patient self-care and independence. You can learn more by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging to inquire about adult day care programs and other services.
Visiting Nurse also offers several services that can shift some of the burden from the primary caregiver to a health professional, including:
- Nursing home waiver programs with financial eligibility requirements
- A caregiver respite program for those caring for patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease or other forms of dementia
- Home health and long-term care at home programs
- Hospice programs
If you need nutritional help, programs like Project Open Hand provide nutritionally tailored meals to low-income individuals with critical, chronic or terminal diseases and to homebound seniors.
Caring for yourself
Being the full-time caregiver puts a strain on you mentally, physically and emotionally.
“Their ability to impact their loved one’s life is very dependent on their own health and wellness and stress,” Davis said.
Organizations like Atlanta-based Mindful Transitions provide counseling and social services to seniors and their families, giving you somewhere to turn when stressful situations feel overwhelming. The team of licensed Clinical Social Workers can provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, counseling and psychotherapy.
“We’re very sensitive to caregiver depression and exhaustion,” Davis said. “We do as much as we can to help that caregiver understand their needs and where their stress is.”
The staff at Visiting Nurse also checks in with patient caregivers and discusses options if caregivers get overstressed.
Other resources include regular therapists and counselors, along with support groups, which are often held through faith-based organizations, added Davis. Leading Age and Culture Change Network of Georgia also can help you find services to care for yourself and your loved one.