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Copyright © 2014          Western Illinois Home Health Care, Inc.          All rights reserved

Full Service Provider

August 2013

by Amanda Powell

So many people are now caring for an aging loved one.  People want to stay in their own home and in their communities, which leads to families and or spouses providing care to prevent institutionalization.  More and more people are struggling with multiple health impairments and disease processes, which are being cared for at home by a non-medical professional.  In many cases a family caregiver is also working and providing care for their own immediate family on top of their role as caregiver to an aging loved one.  We live in a fast-pace, high-stress world, and all of the responsibility can become overwhelming and stressful for the caregiver. Caregiving is also one of the most rewarding roles a person can hold, but it is very important for a caregiver to take care of themselves as well.   


A caregiver can start to feel tired and angry.  We all know how lack of sleep can lead to feeling agitated and easily annoyed.  Caregivers often start to feel isolated and alone.  This can often cause a caregiver to feel resentment toward the person they are caring for and sometimes toward other family members who are not acting as caregiver.  A caregiver can even start to suffer from anxiety and depression.  Some primary symptoms of these are:  difficulty concentrating; trouble remembering details; feeling tired, angry, sad or “empty”; unreasonable fear; racing heart; and panic attacks.  We as caregivers cannot provide good care if we ourselves are suffering from the feelings and symptoms above.  This is why it is so important to have support.


Tips on caring for yourself


Recognize that you are a caregiver. A spouse will often say to me “I am not his caregiver. I am his spouse and this is my job,” or I have heard a care recipient say “She is not my caregiver. She is my daughter.” Recognizing that you are a caregiver or that your loved one is providing care for you can make it easier to see the need for support.  


Accepting help is the first step in relieving stress. So many times in my experience, family caregivers would be reluctant to give up any of their caregiving tasks. I think one of the reasons for this is a caregiver feels guilty if they can’t do it all. A caregiver should not feel guilty about accepting help and they should understand that nobody can do it all. Accepting help can lead to better, higher-quality care by the caregiver.  


Take time for yourself. If you allow assistance, you can have some personal time, free from caregiving tasks. You may be surprised how refreshed and energized you feel when returning to your caregiving role. This does not have to be days away from your loved one. You can feel recharged in just a few hours away.  


Get education and training about the disease process your loved one is experiencing. Unfortunately, our hospitals and healthcare system are creating a caregiver’s nightmare. Our aging loved ones are being discharged quicker to the care of their families with more complex medical needs such as pumps and wounds that require skilled care. A caregiver may not be able to initially provide the skilled care needed, and that is where a home health care agency can step in and provide the care and education needed to assist the caregiver in their immediate and long-term caregiving. Let’s not forget the caregivers who are caring for someone with memory loss or behavioral issues due to their confusion. Learning techniques and approaches in dealing with someone with memory loss and behaviors can lead to a much less stressful situation and easier time caring for that person.


Go to the doctor. Many times a caregiver does not seek medical attention for their own health care needs. By getting run down and possibly ill yourself, you cannot provide quality care to your loved one. If you are putting off your own medical needs, they can easily compile and cause you to be completely unable to provide care or even hospitalized yourself, causing more stress for you and your loved one.  


At Western Illinois Home Heath Care, we assess the entire family unit and their needs. We don’t just look at the needs of the care recipient, but we look at the family as a whole. Our goal is to identify needs and provide support to maintain quality of care in the home for both the care recipient but also for the caregivers.  

Some of the services we provide that can assist a caregiver are:

Family and informal caregivers make up 78% of the long-term care system in the United States. Caregivers should be so proud of this because it shows that you are dedicated to providing care and independence to your loved ones while keeping them in their home and community. Remember, you deserve care too. Please feel free to call Western Illinois Home Health Care at 1-800-228-5993 for more information on a comprehensive care plan for you and your loved one.


Amanda Powell, BSW, is Senior Care Manager for Western Illinois Home Health Care


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