Relax! There Are Solutions to Help You
By Jean Donahue
nursing home, home healthcare, adult day care, respite care -- what do
they all mean? Itís like a new language, but thereís no one to teach
it to you. All you want to do is take care of your elderly loved one. Why
is it so difficult?
the maze of definitions and descriptions associated with becoming a family
caregiver is one of the most frustrating things you will ever deal with --
but you can do it. Most people donít want to think that their loved one
will ever need someone other than themselves to take care of them, so they
put off reading about it until itís staring them in the face. We all
have been there -- or will be there. Suddenly you need to do something,
but you donít have any idea where to start. Letís start about talking
about a family caregiver.
are a couple scenarios for becoming a family caregiver. The first comes
suddenly when your loved one has an accident or sudden, severe stroke or
illness. This is the most common scenario. Suddenly, I had to find a
flight from Des Moines, Iowa, to Mesa, Arizona, when Dad had a stroke. Mom
had Alzheimerís and couldnít take care of even herself. I was so
relieved to see how well the nurses took care of Mom in the hospital.
second scenario comes in stages. You wonder if your loved one needs help.
Then you realize they probably need help, but you arenít sure how
much help they actually need, and you donít know how to approach the
subject. Later, there is no question about it -- you have to do something.
Now. Your loving parent or parents are becoming dangerous to themselves
and/or someone else. Thatís when you officially become a family
caregiver Ė the point at which you MUST step in.
will cover the above terms, but first I want everyone to understand that
all family caregivers encounter the same problems. Whatever you are
encountering and possibly thinking this is very unique Ė someone else
(probably many someones) has been there before you. The way they care for
their loved one may be different, but the family caregiver is universally
frustrated and upset about the need to take care of their loved one. They
donít understand the system, they donít know what to do, they donít
have enough time to take care of their loved one the way they want to,
they canít do everything and sometimes feel like they canít do
anything. And, importantly, they feel guilty about almost everything
connected with taking care of their loved one.
you take care of your loved one is your decision, and the important thing
is to provide the best care for your loved one that you can. Donít do
anything because someone else thinks you should do it that way. Learn what
you need to know and then make your own decisions. Choose the way you care
for your loved one that is the best way for both of you. You donít need
to take care of your loved one yourself, but you can.
letís fast-forward to assisted living, nursing homes, home healthcare,
adult day care and respite care.
living facilities exist to ďassistĒ a person in leading as much of a
normal life as possible when they can basically can still care for
themselves and their living environment, but they do not need 24-hour
nursing or medical care. Security, independence and privacy are provided,
making it possible to easily socialize with other elderly people. Meal
preparation and driving to the store have become difficult for them, and
the assisted living facility usually provides meals and even
transportation, if wanted.
this situation with a nursing home, which provides 24-hour skilled nursing
care and anything else needed, including bathing, feeding and dressing.
Many nursing homes also provide rehabilitation services after a hospital
healthcare is a valuable service provided to people still in a home
setting. Services range from nursing services, bathing, feeding, house
cleaning and anything else needed on a day-to-day basis. Aides are hired
for an hour or two, or up to 24 hours a day.
day care is available to seniors who can get out and socialize and who are
still living in a home setting. Most often, these folks have a little
trouble getting around and caring for their needs. Quite often, they live
with an adult child because it is unsafe for them to live alone. Friends
are developed and activities are provided throughout the day in the adult
day care setting. Usually a person who goes to adult day care enjoys both
friends and activities -- after the normal adjustment period.
care can be very necessary and valuable to caregivers. It gives the family
caregiver time to take a break for a few hours or several days. This
service provides all that is needed for the loved one while the primary
caregiver is away. After a break, the family caregiver returns to
caregiving refreshed, and they are able to take better care of their loved
one. Iíll never forget how relaxed I felt after a day alone Ė my
ďrespiteĒ -- driving the gravel roads in Madison County, Iowa, to take
pictures of the celebrated covered bridges.
advice to you is this:
Learn to enjoy your loved one even in this trying time. You and your loved
one will become much closer, and both of you will appreciate that
closeness the rest of your lives. Remember these descriptions of formal
assistance, and when needed, donít be afraid to take decisions that are
best for you and your elderly loved one.