Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Need for Outside Help in Family Caregiving

by Anne Pagnoni

Being a family caregiver for a loved one makes for a very stressful situation especially in the long-term. After a prolonged period of time, caregiving can become too difficult to endure any longer, and the caregiver reaches a crisis point. At this point outside help is typically needed.

When someone initially takes on the role of caregiver, he or she is confident and has everything under control. The caregiver is coping well with the situation. However, as time continues and the care recipient begins needing more help, the caregiver may begin to isolate from family and friends. The caregiver starts to feel alone and helpless. If the caregiver doesn’t look for outside help at this point, then the caregiver may begin to find his or her physical health deteriorating. Once the physical health of the caregiver is compromised, the caregiver loses focus and extreme fatigue will cloud judgment resulting in the caregiver being unable to make rational decisions or ask for help. Without intervention, the caregiver may find him or herself requiring care.

When assuming the responsibility of a family caregiver, it is important to enlist the help of outside professionals. A financial planner or reverse mortgage specialist may find funds to pay for professional in-home care services. An elder law attorney can help stave off future legal issues. A geriatric care manager can be a guide through the maze of long-term care issues. A home care agency can provide care services to allow the primary caregiver to take a much-needed break. Having a strong support system in place at the beginning will often make the difference between allowing a loved one to remain at home and needing to relocate to a nursing facility.

Family caregivers need the support of family, friends, and professionals. Doing it alone almost never works. If you find yourself in the position of being a family caregiver for a loved one, take the necessary steps at the beginning to get a support system in place. In the long run you’ll be happy that you did!

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