Family Caregiver Month – In-Home CaregiversNovember 26, 2020
The Alzheimer’s Association has designated November as “National Family Caregivers Month” to raise awareness for the work done by in-home caregivers for their elderly relatives. More than 5 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and more than 16 million are providing care for a family member or loved one as an unpaid caregiver. About 83% of Alzheimer’s patients receive care from an unpaid “family caregiver,” and it is estimated that those caregivers provide more than $244 billion dollars’ worth of unpaid care each year. With an aging population, those statistics are predicted to explode in the coming decades, meaning senior home care services are more important than ever.
Family In-Home Caregivers Face Stress and Other Health Issues
When caring for an elderly loved one, especially when Alzheimer’s is involved, caregiving can be demanding, both physically and emotionally, and family caregivers face a different type of stress than paid caregivers, because of their emotional connection to the person receiving care. In addition, family caregivers are more likely to be older themselves, and dealing with their own health issues.
Tips for Family Caregivers
Here are some things experts say can help ease the burden of caring for an elderly relative at home.
- Take care of your own health (physical and emotional) also. Providing quality care can’t happen if the caregiver isn’t physically or emotionally well enough to give care. Make sure you’re eating enough, sleeping enough and getting exercise whenever possible. It’s also important to take breaks from care. Having another family member or friend come over to visit with the person with Alzheimer’s while you take a break can be helpful.
- Learn the signs of caregiver stress and how to deal with it. For example, the concern that your loved one may someday need more care than you can provide can cause anxiety. Also, the feeling of helplessness that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s can lead to depression. Managing this stress is important, and not always easy. Exercise can help, as can relaxation and meditation exercises. One important way to deal with caregiver stress is to make a plan of care, finding help such as an in-home care aide where you need it.
- Find support groups or other ways to connect with people with similar experiences.
Get some help for you and your loved one by having home care assistance help provide care. An in-home caregiver can provide you some relief while you take care of yourself, either at a regular interval or on an as-needed basis.
Senior Caregiving and COVID-19
While Alzheimer’s disease itself does not increase the risk of contracting COVID, the behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s (e.g., forgetfulness, wandering, etc.) may increase risk of exposure to the virus. It’s important to consider how a person with Alzheimer’s may be exposed to the virus, and take appropriate actions A person with Alzheimer’s may need more frequent reminders to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when they are in public, and they may not remember social distancing recommendations
In addition, it’s important for caregivers to be mindful of their own exposure to the virus. For example, have prescriptions delivered or utilize mail order services to minimize trips outside the home. Also, because many caregivers are high-risk for the virus themselves caregivers should have alternate plans ready should they become sick with COVID.
Becoming a Paid Caregiver For Your Family Member
In many states, a family member can actually become a paid caregiver for their elderly relatives at home. Doing so can relieve some of the financial burden of caring for an elderly relative, while still maintaining a high level of in-home care. Qualifications and documentation requirements vary, so contact a home care agency to find out how to begin the process.
Senior Care Home Aides
Having a caregiver come to your home and provide some care can be extremely valuable, even if the care they provide doesn’t directly impact the person with Alzheimer’s. Having a home care aide do light housekeeping, help with grocery shopping or provide help with laundry will help free up the caregiver’s time to focus on their loved one. In turn, these services can relieve stress on the caregiver and other family members who may be helping out as well.
A Family Caregiver Speaks
Marie, 81, is taking care of her husband Harris, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago. “Having an in-home caregiver has made a huge difference,” she reports. “Not only does she help clean the house, she will keep an eye on Harris for a few hours, which lets me run some errands or have lunch with a friend.” It has also helped provide peace of mind to their adult children, only one of whom lives nearby. “When we first made the decision to keep Harris home for as long as we could, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of him for very long. But having an outside caregiver means rather than worrying about helping me clean up, my kids and grandkids can spend time with Harris and me. If it weren’t for our home care aide, I’m not sure we’d have been able to stay in our home for as long as we have.”
Home Care Powered by AUAF Recognizes Family Caregivers
Whether it’s getting paid to be a caregiver for your elderly relative or having a home care aide come to your home, Home Care Powered by AUAF has a solution that will meet you and your loved one’s needs. Call us at or Contact Us to learn more.
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