Today, a record 53 million people in the United States are providing care for older loved ones. Care giving brings with it many emotional rewards. But care giving can be physically and emotionally demanding. Caregivers are stressed as they struggle to balance care giving tasks with their work and other family responsibilities. They lose sleep worrying about the quality of care that they are providing.
The pandemic of 2020 has increased caregivers’ workload considerably. Family caregivers are trying to keep their senior loved ones both safe and socially connected – this on top of working from home, and perhaps supervising their children’s school days.
“Juggling all these tasks can lead to what’s called caregiver burnout,” said Shalom Plotkin, owner of Right at Home Cleveland East. “This is a sense of exhaustion when a caregiver feels drained of time and energy, coupled with feelings of anxiety and guilt. Caregiver burnout can lead to serious depression, and raises the caregiver’s own risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia and early death.”
If you are a family caregiver, make caring for yourself a top goal.
“Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be a less effective caregiver for your loved one,” Plotkin said.
Plotkin offered some great suggestions to add to your list of 2021 New Year’s resolutions:
1. “I will build some ‘me time’ into my schedule.”
2. “I’ll get enough exercise and eat a healthy diet.”
3. “I’ll keep current with my own healthcare.”
4. “I’ll learn more about my loved one’s health condition and what I can expect in the fu-ture.”
5. “I’ll connect with a caregiver support group.”
6. “I’ll set boundaries.”
7. “I’ll practice self-compassion.”
8. “I’ll get help!”
Bring in professional care. During 2020, professional in-home care became an even more attractive solution for supporting the well-being of seniors. Professional in-home caregivers take over many of the typical tasks of family caregivers, such as hygiene care, assistance with managing healthcare appointments and medications, light housekeeping and laundry, meal preparation … whatever tasks need doing. They provide respite care so you can take a break.
“Hire through an agency that has stepped up to today’s challenges,” Plotkin said.
Plotkin reported that Right at Home caregivers are always trained to reduce the risk of illness. They follow local and national guidelines on curtailing the spread of COVID-19. Right at Home has a task force devoted to keeping owners and caregivers up to date with the latest recommendations during this rapidly changing situation. “As families work hard to keep the most vulnerable family members safe at this time, having trained professionals on the team is a tremendous stress-buster,” Plotkin said.
The Cleveland east side office of Right at Home serves the communities of Beachwood, Solon, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, University Heights, South Euclid, Warrensville Heights, Chagrin Falls, Highland Heights, Orange, Gates Mills, Pepper Pike, Moreland Hills, Wickliffe and beyond.
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