As nice as caregiving sounds to the caregiver and to the person receiving care from them, there are moments when it can also be more challenging than comforting.
Caregiving is one of those positions that some residents of Cedar Rapids or elsewhere do for a job, and others do it out of support or even love for a close friend or family member while they need help, including hospice care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice also can provide caregiving services but knows there are some differences between their role and the role of some clients and caregivers they work with.
For instance, they can do their job and then can go home. They may work for multiple clients throughout the week.
In comparison, some caregivers live on-site with the people they care about. It may be a combination of spouses and children or even children who take turns providing care. Or they may bring in a caregiver or aide for certain tasks.
Most professional aides and caregivers also have certain levels of training and even medical credentials. They may have received education in everything from working with certain diseases and medical conditions to advanced wound care and how to safely handle blood and other fluids. Either through experience in the field or from school, they may have also learned ways to deal with stress or work with clients who may not be lucid or happy, maybe even aggressive.
Personal caregivers are sometimes people with good hearts but don’t necessarily have the knowledge or familiarity with some medical care. They can help with basic things like mobility assistance or general companionship and security, but beyond that, they might not be sure how to handle more complex situations.
These are just some of the challenges that personal caregivers face. Plus, if they live in the same place as the person they’re caring for, it might be tough to get away, especially if they’re responsible for meals and housekeeping.
Some people may have even given up careers to help out a family member. This could also lead to some resentment if they’re stuck at home and pretty much always “on duty,” rather than being done with work.
Caregiving can also be a challenge to the person receiving care. They could tire of the same person helping them.
Then, symptoms of dementia, including progressive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, can add to some of the tension. It can make caregiving more difficult if a client can’t remember details, can be confused or aggressive or is a safety risk to themselves or others.
Plus, people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease may be physically fine for years but continue to be more and more mentally impaired. So what may seem like a short commitment for a personal caregiver may extend for years, and also progressively require higher levels of care.
No wonder burnout is particularly high for many volunteer caregivers!
Caregiving doesn’t have to automatically lead to frustration, resentment, or guilt. Going into the position with one’s eyes open can be helpful, including asking “what can I do to avoid or at least reduce burnout?”
One of the best answers is respite care. This is a service where a caregiver can take a much-needed break while leaving their client in good hands, such as with a nurse, aide, or someone else who is considered trusted and safe.
In many cases, respite care allows the caregiver to go out into the community, clear their mind, recharge their mental and physical batteries, and then come back, perhaps with a better attitude, or at least a little refreshed.
Respite care can be for a few hours or even a whole day. This can give a caregiver the opportunity to do all sorts of things not involving housework or caring for someone: get their nails done, go for lunch, get coffee with a friend, go for a walk, or even go to the park or the water. Even getting out of the house for a walk – or even a trip to the gym – can be soothing.
It could be an opportunity to catch up on personal tasks, like taking nursing and caregiving classes or visiting a mental health professional.
Some people schedule their respite care regularly, others may do it when the level of frustration and fatigue gets too high. Either one is appropriate.
The most common form of respite care is someone coming to spend time with the client. But some communities have respite care centers, where people can be dropped off for a few hours. They can be supervised for safety purposes and can take part in various social and fitness activities. This is also rewarding for them for new surroundings and new people to interact with.
Respite care is a useful way for a caregiver to take care of themselves, which can make it easier to provide care to others later.