Twenty-five percent of the population in the United States is currently dealing with care giving issues, with 80-85 percent providing the care themselves. These are people who are in their late 70s and 80s taking care of someone in their household, as well as adult children trying to maintain their own households while helping parents and family members live at home as long as possible. The adult children caring for parents have been called "The Sandwich Generation," because they are sandwiched between aging family members on one side and young children on the other.
Often family caregivers put themselves at risk by ignoring or denying their own health issues as they take care of aging loved ones.
Physical signs of stress for caregivers include;
- disturbed sleep,
- body aches due to tension,
- digestive problems,
- high blood pressure,
- irregular heartbeat,
- chest pains,
- weight fluctuation (gain or loss),
- sexual dysfunction, and more.
Emotional signs of stress include;
- mood swings,
- frustration and irritability,
- memory problems,
- lack of concentration,
- increased substance abuse,
- feeling out of control,
- and a feeling of isolation.
HIRING AN IN-HOME CAREGIVER
Getting help is vital during this time. Caregiving does not have to be all or nothing. Having respite so one can go to work, go to the market, go out with a friend or even take a nap is important. Starting out with a few hours of help per week may be the answer.
When searching for and interviewing potential in-home caregivers;
- contact at least three care giving agencies or private care givers,
- ask each the same questions so you can compare answers,
- be aware that the first person who comes into your home may not work out,
- and do not get discouraged - it can take a few tries to find the right fit.
Make a list of the needs of your loved one;
- meal preparation,
- personal hygiene,
- personal safety,
- medication reminders,
- transportation, etc.
Additional steps to hiring an in-home caregiver;
- create a job description,
- put together a routine that will make your family member as comfortable with the caregiver as possible,
- spend time with the caregiver, orienting him or her to the home and surroundings,
- Tell them the likes and dislikes of their new client,
- and work with the caregiver to plan activities that allow your loved one to keep active throughout the day.
By using a home care agency you may alleviate many pitfalls. An agency can substitute with another caregiver should your caregiver have an emergency. Please note, when you hire a caregiver, it is considered custodial care. This type of care is not paid by Medicare. Long Term Care Insurance often helps pay for these services. Check the policy carefully before hiring anyone. Some policies mandate a Licensed Home Health Agency before they pay for the care. Some policies have a waiting period. These are questions that can be answered by your agent.
We are all looking for "quality of life." Taking care of yourself and providing good care for your loved ones makes the aging process better for all.
Estee Bienstock RN is the Executive Director of ALLPOINT Home Health. She grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from the LAC/USC Nursing School in 1976. After years of working in area hospitals, Estee recognized a need for better post-acute in-home care. She then founded Enhanced Health Care in 1989 and quickly set the standard for quality home care. In 2001, Estee formed ALLPOINT Home Health, with the goal of maintaining her unrivaled level of ethics and high standards of customer care. Her philosophy is that each client should be cared for the way she would care for her own family member. Since its inception, ALLPOINT Home Health has been leading the way in helping seniors and disabled adults safely retain their independence in the home.