Many family members care for a parent or spouse, giving without hesitation, but it can be hard to keep boundaries in place to prevent caregiver burnout.
Love, obligation or just a determination to “do what’s right” can push them beyond their limitations, eventually putting their own health at risk.
Recognizing that a family caregiver is becoming burned out or needs a break is an important way to provide support. Caregivers need time to relax and unwind, catch up on sleep, run errands and take whatever time is needed to remain healthy, fresh and energized.
Just as a parent on an oxygen-deprived airplane must put their own mask on first before they can help their child, ignoring the caregiver’s personal needs hurts the one they’re trying to help.
Whether you live down the street or a thousand miles away, one of these ideas might help you lighten their load.
1. Meal kit delivery.
With a subscription, they’ll have to grocery shop and prepare meals less frequently. Time magazine recommends Plated as the best home kit value in their review of the top options. For those who prefer a ready-to-eat meal, Freshly is a healthy option.
2. Mail delivery of medications.
Can you help them set this up so they don’t have to make a trip to the pharmacy?
3. Encourage them to say “yes” when a friend or neighbor offers help.
Not feeling confident in their offer to watch mom for the afternoon? Perhaps they can pick up medication, clean the kitchen, grocery shop or mow the grass.
4. Ask to be included in the care plan.
Are there scheduling arrangements that can be managed on their behalf? Can you step in for the day or afternoon once a week, or provide respite care to give them a break? Discussing specific ways to help ensures everyone is on the same page and included.
5. Offer to do online research.
Can you investigate local resources that might be helpful? For example, azcaregiver.org may provide up to $300 in respite care services every 90 days, plus Arizona’s Area on Aging and Family Caregiver Support Program offer other resources. Identifying support groups and training can also be valuable.
For dementia caregivers, Sun Health’s Memory Care Navigator is a fabulous free resource to check out. Sun Health also offers a twice-monthly dementia caregiver support group in Sun City West. Call (623) 832-9300 to learn more.
6. Look into family leave benefits that may be offered by your workplace.
Human Resources can be very useful if they understand your situation, and the need to provide respite for other family members.
This mindset leads to cutting out activities that provide respite and enjoyment, leading to burnout. Recharging their batteries is just as important as giving care.
8. Consider adult day programs.
Eldercare.gov can be a useful resource to explore options. It can be a fantastic way to schedule regular breaks so the caregiver has time to live their own life outside of giving care.
9. Consider elder mediators.
For those frustrated with not being included, siblings or parents in denial that help is needed, or family members reluctant to help, an elder mediator might be the answer. Intervention to ensure conversations are productive and successful teamwork can make all the difference, and uncover useful resources.
Pre-planning for future needs with a continuing care at home plan can be a wonderful way to ensure that you, your spouse or aging parents have companion and caregiving support as they age. It provides services to help them remain independent and able to manage normal tasks of daily living, but also coordinates and pays for caregiving resources if it’s eventually necessary. If one spouse is currently receiving care and doesn’t medically qualify to join the program, it can be a lifesaver for the other spouse, ensuring they remain healthy.
Learn more about continuing care at home programs at our no-obligation discovery seminar, or call (623) 227- HOME (4663). Sun Health at Home is the first CCaH program in the Western United States, and the only one available in Arizona.
(Originally published Jan. 31, 2018; last updated Jan. 11, 2019.)