Sometimes things fall apart, and as the family caregiver, you find yourself in need of someone who can share the care for a little while. This can happen when you or the one you care for has an unexpected situation that arises that makes care at home difficult or impossible for a time. Nothing is embarrassing or awkward about this situation; it’s just reality, and you need to be prepared when it happens.
Maybe you have an accident or illness that needs a period of rehabilitation. This type of thing happens to everyone eventually. What’s your plan? Do you have family members or friends who can step in and become a temporary caregiver while you recover? If not, what will you do?
It also might be that you need a break, a vacation from being a caregiver. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that you need a little time off. Remember, you must take care of yourself regularly when you are caring for another. Regularly taking time for your personal restoration will make you a better caregiver in the long run. But, again, who steps in to provide care while you are away? You must work this out BEFORE something happens that leaves everybody scrambling for a quick fix!
A temporary stay at a local Assisted Living Facility (ALF) could be your best solution. The right ALF is an excellent resource for your loved one who can do a lot for themselves but needs a little assistance to stay healthy and mostly independent. Some facilities even offer temporary respite stays to give family caregivers a short break. These senior communities provide your loved one their own space while also being a part of a broader community. There are usually group activities, communal meals in a dining room, and even trips for shopping or sight-seeing in the local area. There are medical services available, but your loved one is mostly independent within their own small efficiency apartment or room. Nobody will come and get them for group activities or meals unless you arrange for these services if they are not joiners. Medication reminders can also be set. An ALF offers some limited assistance, like help with bathing or dressing, and regulations for these facilities differ from state to state. The important thing for you to know is that you need to check out your local ALF options to ask about respite care stays and how much notice they would require should the need arise. The cost might also be a consideration.
At times a loved one’s care may move beyond what the family caregiver can offer. The declining ability could be caused by an infection or illness, a sudden fall, or a progressive chronic disease. When you can’t provide adequate care, there are several ways you can include others to safely and effectively meet your loved one’s care needs both now and in the future.
First, make an appointment with the doctor to determine if the issue can be resolved with medical intervention. Dehydration or a UTI can cause a rapid decline that reverses quickly with proper intervention. Loss of walking ability can be regained to some extent, with a referral to the right Home Health agency for gait training and leg-strengthening exercises.
Other loss of capacity is more lasting and can force you to move to a professional caregiver service. Home care organizations like Home Instead offer dependable, reliable, trained professional CAREGiversR that supplement or replace the care you provide. This may allow you to move back more into your original role as a family member who coordinates care.
Your loved one may require skilled care provided by the nursing staff in a more clinical setting in extreme cases. Wherever the care is given, and by whom, you are still the family caregiver. Your role becomes even more critical when you must take on a more administrative function to ensure that your loved one receives the best possible care.
Sharing the care takes on a whole new meaning when it grows from one person to an entire caregiver army. Wherever you are on the spectrum, we want to help you plan the best pathway to achieving your best life as a family caregiver!
Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about sharing the care.