Caregiving, even for someone you love deeply, can bring mixed emotions. On one hand, there is a bond to the person who needs your care and the satisfaction of being able to help. But seniors can be inflexible and difficult, or have mental and/or physical conditions that are hard to deal with. The result can be exhaustion and frustration for the caregiver.
- Caregivers, whether spouses, children, family members, friends or paid assistants, need to take care of themselves too.
- To find other people who are sharing your joys and your headaches, look at support groups in your community. For example, family and friends affected by a loved one with stroke, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and other conditions often regularly meet to learn and share.
How do you know when it's time to step in and take responsibility for another person's care and become their caregiver? There's no easy answer. For one thing, caregiving is not easily done from a long distance. You also need to know the person's health and behavior over time, so you can spot changes and problems. Caregiving can be difficult, but more of us are facing it every year and a lot of help is available.
- Caregiving support groups exist to help you cope. Call Eldersouce at (585) 325-2800 or Lifespan at (585) 244-8400 for a caregiver consultation to identify needs, get supportive counseling, and help coordinate a care plan.
- The New York State Office for the Aging has lots of good advice including tips on hiring a caregiver.
No one really wants to give up their independence, so many of the issues surrounding caregiving can be very delicate. Many times, one of the first issues to arise is that of driving; it's often hard for seniors to realize when they need assistance driving or should not be driving at all. For good information on seniors and driving, see our section on senior driver evaluation and rehabilitation.
When Caregiving is More than Companionship
Because of the normal aging process, many seniors have more difficulty doing simple tasks they once took for granted. If you're still not sure if you'd be a good caregiver, think about the seven critical areas where seniors may need help, and then honestly consider if you can help in them.
- Bathing and dressing
- Preparing healthy meals
- Getting in and out of bed and walking
- Taking and tracking use of medications
- Transportation for doctor appointments and social visits