Taking care of a family member when they are sick is sometimes a thankless task. Whether it is a child, spouse, or parent, meeting the needs of someone who is unable to take care of him or herself can be tiring and frustrating at times. These feelings seem to intensify when taking care of an elderly parent or other elderly family member.
Elderly family members present unique challenges for family caregivers. Seniors may have trouble accepting the reversal of roles where the child is now taking care of some of responsibilities that they used to perform for their children. They also may resent the fact that they are no longer to be as independent as they used to be or that some of their peers still are.
Family caretakers that do not reside in the same house as their elderly parent, worry about their parent’s safety when they are alone. They also may need to make frequent trips to their parent’s residence to ensure that they are ok if they do not answer a phone call or return a call. Not to mention handling the household duties of two homes can be exhausting. Even when elderly family members live in the same home as their caretakers there is often the same worries about the senior’s safety when the caretaker leaves home for work or other extended outings.
Seeking Part-time Care for a Relative
When caregivers feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, they can often feel alone unless they know others in similar situations or have siblings or other family members that share some of the responsibility of caring for the senior. Home care services can be a great help for caregivers in this situation. Depending on the needs of their elderly parent a few hours of assistance providing care or performing housekeeping duties, a week can help relieve the caregiver of some of the stress.
The average cost for a non-medical home care professional averages between $19-$21 per hour. They can provide services such as:
- Light-housekeeping duties – Cleaning, Laundry etc.
- Meal Preparation
- Companion care
- Grocery shopping
- Transportation to appointments and other errands
- Groom and Hygiene tasks
The average cost for medical home care is higher and can range for $25-$60 per hour. Medical home care includes rehabilitation services as well as skilled nursing and nurse aid care. Even though medical home care is more costly, Medicare and other health insurance programs usually cover most of the costs.
Caregiver Support Groups and Resources
Primary caregivers experience stress and worry often. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the various tasks and challenges of taking care of an elderly loved one. There are many families experiencing the same challenges, but it is still easy to feel alone. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers can experience depression, anxiety and even physical illness when overcome with their responsibilities.
It is important for caregivers to reach out to their own physicians for support when they feel the stress is affecting their own health. Family physicians can often make recommendations for community resources to help with the caretaking responsibilities as well help the caregiver remain in the best heath possible.
Many organizations exist to provide support to caregivers and their families. The Family Caregiver Alliance has many articles available of issues that affect caregivers and a variety of resources for caregiver support through online forums or support groups. In addition, the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Cancer Society have resources for caregivers of those specific conditions.
According to Department of Health and Human Services, there are 52 million families or informal caregivers in the U.S., and that number is going to continue to grow as the number of elderly continues to increase. While that is a very large number, it also means that there are many Americans experiencing the same issues taking care of their elderly family members. Reaching out for support and advice early can make the task of caregiving a little bit easier and less stressful.
A special thank you to Zachary Zlotoff for providing this guest post.