Family Caregivers: Do Not Admit Defeat, There's a Better Way
If you are struggling to keep up with your personal and professional obligations as well as caregiving tasks for your aging loved one, you might be feeling exhausted and perhaps even at the end of your rope. All family caregivers are at risk for caregiver burnout and the health consequences that can accompany it, whether you’re performing daily care tasks or coordinating care from hundreds of miles away.
Fortunately, you can get the support you need and return to a more familiar relationship with your loved one thanks to senior living. Though you may not think of senior living as a solution for your caregiver burnout, the reality is that exceptional senior living communities offer comfort and support to both the residents that live there and to their family members.
Realities of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a term that refers to the physical, mental, and emotional health problems that can result from family caregiving. Burnout happens when a family caregiver is under a large amount of stress and does not receive the assistance or support they need to take the occasional rest from their caregiver role.
The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that caregiver burnout affects family caregivers equally, with symptoms ranging from increased depression and anxiety to insomnia and even heart disease. Fortunately, caregiver burnout can be prevented if caregivers are able to notice the developing symptoms and then find ways to get the support they deserve.
For many family caregivers, the answer to decreasing the effects of caregiver burnout is to look into senior living communities. When the older loved one moves to senior living, they are able to receive the support they need and the lifestyle they want to stay as healthy as possible. This takes the responsibility away from the family caregivers, allowing for a breath of fresh air and a return to traditional family roles.
Benefits of Senior Living Communities for Family Caregivers
Senior living communities are just as helpful and supportive to their senior residents as they are to the families of those who live there. Exceptional communities are always looking for new ways to give residents and their family members a positive experience as well as access to the amenities and resources that make wellness more attainable.
If you are reluctant to consider senior living, it could just be that you have an outdated view of what these communities can be. Today’s communities are nothing like the “nursing homes” of yesterday. In fact, most senior living communities feel more like a resort than a clinical hospital.
Here are just a few of the benefits today’s senior living communities afford family caregivers, which might just surprise you.
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1. Family participation is encouraged.
Senior living communities are intentional about welcoming family members and inviting them to participate in special events with their loved ones. You might find opportunities like family barbecues, a holiday dessert exchange, or a special concert for families and their loved ones. Each community strives to find a way to make family events a regular part of life in the community.
Thanks to these family events, residents and their family members enjoy spending more quality time creating memories instead of focusing solely on caregiving tasks.
2. Education and support groups are available.
Exceptional senior living communities offer a variety of educational presentations and support groups to family members. For example, you might find a community offers a caregiver support group, a bereavement support group, or a lecture series on senior health topics.
The more family caregivers learn about their loved one’s condition and how to predict what comes next, the more they are empowered to advocate for their loved one. Also, support groups offer the opportunity to connect with others who have caregiving stories similar to your own, which can be validating.
3. Family involvement during the move-in process.
At Cedarhurst, we recognize that the moving process can be overwhelming. One way we strive to help our new residents get comfortable is our unique PAIR TO PREPARE™ program. New residents are invited to have one family member spend the night with them for the first few days in their new community. The resident and their family member are treated to special meals, given personalized tours, and are given the time to settle in together.
Being near your loved one during the transition will help you build relationships of trust with the community team as well as make your loved one’s experience more comfortable. It’s a win-win for everyone.
4. Visitors are welcome.
Though communities need to continue to follow COVID-19 precautions in order to keep residents and team members safe, visits in Cedarhurst communities are back in full swing. Our team members love when family members visit, and residents can even reserve the private dining room if they would prefer to host their loved ones outside of their apartment.
Giving older adults the chance to host family and friends again in a lower-stress environment can make for more successful visits overall. This can bolster family relationships and decrease stress for the family members as well as the residents.
5. Family members are a part of the care plan process.
For those who live in assisted living or memory care communities, family members are an active part of the care plan process. At Cedarhurst, our care plans are personalized to the preferences and history of the residents we serve; each care plan is different because each resident is different. We rely on family members as a part of our care plan team and invite them to take part in regular care plan meetings with their loved ones to review how things are going.
Contributing to the care plan and listening to how your loved one is doing can ensure everyone is on the same page and providing your loved one with the most personalized interventions possible.
6. Caregivers are experts and ready to change as your loved one’s needs do.
Most family caregivers simply don’t have the tools or experience to keep up with the changing needs or challenges their loved ones experience. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed or confused, as well as staying up too late to look for answers on the internet. Senior living communities employ kind and experienced caregivers who are ready to meet your loved one where they are and provide exceptional care every time.
Family members can finally relax knowing that they are not the point person for their loved one’s care and that there are experienced caregivers there to assist at all hours of the day and night.
7. Not ready for senior living yet? Consider respite care.
If senior living isn’t something you or your family member are ready to consider right now, respite care can be the perfect way to get the break you need while ensuring your loved one has the care they need.
Respite care is a term used to describe services that provide short-term relief for family caregivers. You can find respite care services in most senior living communities, where they invite the senior to live in an apartment at the community for a few days or weeks to experience the lifestyle and receive support as needed. Meanwhile, the family caregiver can take an extended break, whether to go on a much-needed vacation or to simply relax at home, leaving their caregiving duties at the door. Respite care can be a wonderful way to test out the senior living community lifestyle for both you and your loved one, helping you make a determination if it could be a long-term solution in the future.
Senior Living: A Positive Life Impact for Everyone
Senior living communities aren’t all alike. Each is designed to serve a specific group of residents, from independent living to assisted living to memory care.
Knowing which lifestyle option is best for your loved one is the first step to researching communities near you. Download our free guide, Understanding Senior Living Lifestyle Options, to learn more about each available option and determine which might suit your loved one’s needs now and in the future.
Remember, senior living communities are there to provide support for their residents and for family members. The right decision can positively impact your life and the life of your loved one.