Senior Caregiver Health at Risk: Facts, Signs, and Solutions

When it comes to seniors and caregiving, attention is always placed on the seniors’ well-being.

Which makes sense.

However, there’s another important player in the caregiving cycle that deserves attention too. And, that another player is the one giving the care- the dutiful family member who spends the day in and day out helping to care for the loved senior, and who often gets overlooked or overworked.

In this article, we’ll go through the facts of caregiver health, the signs of an overworked caregiver, and some practical solutions.

The facts behind caregiver health.

As more and more baby boomers enter their senior age, more family members are being called upon to care for their parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts.

While caregiving is amazing to work and truly exemplifies the meaning of family, it can also be quite a strenuous job. Especially, for those family members who also have their own spouses and children to take care of. Needless to say, the time commitment and workload of caregiving can be difficult to manage.

Unfortunately, this often leads to overworked or overwhelmed caregivers, which can result in poor health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that of the 18 million Americans who are informal caregivers (meaning, they are not paid for their caregiving services), about 1 in 5 are in roughly moderate or bad health.

Essentially, while caregivers are working to keep their loved seniors in good health, they are letting their own health slip away. A sad consequence that we, at AmeriBest, aim to prevent.

The signs of an overworked caregiver.

When it comes to determining someone’s health, direct questions don’t always work.

Because it is not uncommon for caregivers to brush off questions with “I’m fine” or “I have it under control.” And the problem is that these caregivers really might really be fine at the moment. But burn out can happen in an instant. Informal caregivers are fine until they’re not fine. At which point their physical and mental health may be at serious risk.

So, while open and honest communication is usually the best option, sometimes a little something else is required. Something called tactful observation. 

If you’re worried about a caregiver you love, look out for these tell-tale signs of burnout:

  1. Persistent tiredness
  2. Anxiety or sadness
  3. Forgetfulness
  4. Weak immune system (I.e. getting sick easily and often)
  5. Loss of weight

Obviously, everyone exhibits signs of burnout differently. But, if you notice any of these signs within yourself or a caregiver you love, consider that it might be time to intervene and help.

The option for help.

Whether it’s for you, a friend, or a loved one- don’t be afraid to call a home care agency for a bit of extra help.

Caregivers often avoid calling for help because they see it as a lack of responsibility on their part. They worry that by calling in someone else to do the job, they are casting off their beloved seniors.

But if you know what home care really is, you know that’s not the case.

With at-home care, family caregivers can come in and out as they please. There are no visiting times and no need to call in advance. Family caregivers can help monitor their seniors’ schedules and care, while also having a professional home care aide to lean on for support and advice.

With at-home care, seniors never feel alone and caregivers never feel overwhelmed.

6 Big Benefits of Home Health Care for Seniors

The loving comforts of home

Changing environments isn’t just scary, it’s also stressful.
And this stress can actually place negative effects on the body, making it harder to stay healthy and strong. Because, when the body has to exert energy to fight off stress, it doesn’t have the energy to fight off other more serious health hazards.

Environmental strain is a real thing. And, for this reason, many seniors opt to live in the comfort of their own homes with at-home health care. So, they can rest and recuperate to the best of their body’s abilities.

More time with family

At-home care allows seniors to spend more time with their families and friends. When you’re stuck in a hospital all day with strict visiting hours, it can be difficult to spend time with the ones you love. But when you choose home health care, you get to choose who you see and when.

This gives seniors a chance to spend real quality time interacting with others. Which can have a very beneficial effect on their physical health, as well as emotional and psychological.

Versatility

Not only does at-home care let you choose when you see your family and friends, it also lets you choose your doctors.

At home care agencies offer a wide range of services and specialists. Seniors can choose from physical therapists, occupational therapists, registered nurses, medical social workers, and home health aides. And, seniors can create their own schedules, so they’re never stuck living according to someone else’s plan.

Seniors who choose home health care can also get help with daily tasks, transportation, meal prep, and more.

Affordability

If you’ve ever had to stay at a hospital overnight, you know just how expensive nightly visits can be. That’s why so many choose at-home care instead when it comes to the happiness of their wallets. Because, with home health care, you’re not paying for a room and board. You’re simply paying for the services needed. Which can save you a ton.

For seniors looking to hold on to their money, and get the most bang for their buck, at-home care is a great resource.

Better medical attention

At-home care allows seniors to get the individual attention they need to stay at the top of their health game.

Hospitals can be so packed with patients, that they often have trouble giving them all the care they need. But with at-home care, seniors are guaranteed to get all their medical, emotional, and physical requirements met. It’s like the difference between commercial and privately own companies. Often times, the small, family own places give you the better service.

The one-on-one ratio that comes with at-home care can really make a big impact on your senior’s overall health and happiness.

Companionship

Not only do seniors get more social interaction because they are getting extensive one-on-one care, they can also get companionship by hiring a home care volunteer.

Home care agencies offer companions as a way to keep seniors stay mentally aware and emotionally healthy. This way seniors never get lonely and keep their minds sharp.

Caregiving Rules: How to Stay on Top of Your Game

Whether you’ve recently started caregiving for a loved one or you’ve been doing it for a while, here are 4 rules that can really make or break your time as a caregiver.

Rule #1: Accept Help

This is the first rule because it’s the most important. When you’re caregiving, you often want to do everything by yourself. Not because you don’t trust others, but because you think it’s your duty. And you think it’s your responsibility to do it all on your own.

This is the biggest trap that caregivers fall into. And they’ll even run themselves ragged thinking they just need to push themselves a little more. But this is not a sustainable way of life. And, it certainly is not a sustainable way of caregiving. Eventually, both you and your loved one will feel the consequences of your pushing yourself too hard.

So, you need to understand, you don’t have to do everything by yourself.
And, it’s okay to accept help.

If someone is willing to offer you an extra hand- take it. The same way you want to help your loved senior, others want to help you. You wouldn’t want your senior to reject your help, so don’t reject others’ help to you.

Rule #2: Stay Organized

When you’ve finally decided to accept help from others, it can get a little hectic remembering who is doing what for your senior.

And when things are hectic, it makes others less likely to continue to give their support. When someone offers help, they want to actually be able to help or they’ll come away feeling frustrated. They don’t want to show up, only to find your senior being helped by two other friends as well, because of your overbooked.

So, you’ve got to keep a good schedule. Don’t just make lists in your head, because you’re likely to forget those. Instead, have a physical (or digital) calendar, and write everything down. Who, what, where, and when.

Rule #3: Take Care of Yourself

While you’re scheduling your senior’s healthcare appointments, make sure to schedule your own as well. Whether it be mental or physical.

As the popular saying goes, you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.
Because you simply can’t give someone good care if you don’t have the energy to do so.

Take care of yourself.
Keep yourself healthy and strong, even if that means taking some time off for yourself.

Rule #4: Consider Your Options

In addition to getting help from friends and family, you can also get help from professionals.

It doesn’t have to be all the time, but having a professional caregiver come to your home and take care of things every now and then is a huge stress reliever. Even just knowing that you have a professional to rely on, is comforting.

This way, when you need to take time for yourself, or simply can’t take off from work for another doctor appointment, you can pay a professional caregiver to do the work for you.

Home Care Aids for the Win – The Future of Caregiving

What does caregiving mean to you?
Responsibility. Kindness. Assistance. Medical expertise.

These are the four core aspects of good caregiving for seniors. These are the four core aspects needed to keep your senior healthy, happy, and living a good life.

Yet, it’s hard for family caregivers to satisfy all four needs when they’ve got their own lives to live. When family members become caregivers, they have to dedicate a significant amount of their own free time to their senior’s wellbeing.

Which is great, if you have the time. But many of us, have full time jobs, families, and errands we need to attend to. And this makes the job of a family caregiver extremely complicated.
Causing many to now opt for professional home care aids.

Because, home care aids are the future of caregiving.

What is a professional home care aid?

A professional home care aid comes to you, as opposed to you going to them. This means, that your senior can enjoy the comforts of his or her own home, while also getting the necessary medical and personal assistance needed. Home care aids can help in a variety of ways, anywhere from simply changing bed linens, to overseeing hygiene care, to emptying urinary bags.

Essentially, they do a lot.

Female nurse visiting senior patient for checking blood pressure

How can a professional home care aid meet the 4 core caregiving needs?

Responsibility – Professional home care aids take their jobs seriously. They understand the meaning of reliability and efficiency. When you’re caring for someone else’s life, you’ve got to be there for them, and ready to help them with whatever they need.

Kindness – You don’t just want someone who will come in, do the bare minimum, and leave. You want someone who loves what they do, so that they will go above and beyond. You want someone who will show kindness to your senior, because they really care for your senior. And that’s exactly what home care aids are trained to do.

Assistance – There are all different jobs that a home care aid can do. Housekeeping, meal prep, transportation, personal care– just to name a few. Home care aids provide assistance to your senior, so that your senior can keep living the life they want.

Medical Expertise – In addition to basic living assistance, professional home care agencies can also get you skilled nurses and doctors. So your senior can get all the medical and emotional help they need.

Where can I find a professional home care aid that will satisfy the 4 core caregiving requirements?

Are you located in Philadelphia, PA? Then come on by AmeriBest Home Care agency to get a reliable home care aid today!

At AmeriBest Home Care, we match your needs with our experienced and talented staff. Whether your senior needs skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical social work, or a home health aide, we’ve got it all.

Give us a call today at 1800-HOMECARE.
So that we can help you make the life that’s right for you.