Many caregivers are pushed to the edge of their physical, mental, and emotional ability from the strain of being a primary caregiver. It’s an undertaking that often demands so much time and effort that caregivers often struggle to live life on two fronts. Help for the caregivers and why they may choose to go it alone is a complex topic.
There are several avenues to pursue if a caregiver wants to find some relief from caregiver duties. They can consider making use of adult daycare, hire in-home caregivers, or perhaps have family members or close friends help out.
So what is it that makes so many caregivers refuse help from anyone despite struggling to do everything on their own?
THE NEED TO PROTECT A SENIOR PARENT
Even though many seniors have passed the point where they will ever be completely healthy again, many family caregivers never give up hope.
They convince themselves that if they put in enough time and effort, they can make the senior in their lives whole again. This protective instinct is very strong and they want to be the ones who can safeguard the senior and look out for their well-being.
It can be difficult for other family members to overcome this sense of responsibility no matter how much they would like to help out.
The primary caregiver continues to refuse help despite everything, and eventually, others stop offering to help.
OFTEN CARGEGIVER GUILT IS THE PROBLEM
Not in a million years should family caregivers ever feel guilty, but often they do. Anybody who devotes so much of themselves to care for the senior parent in their life has no reason to ever feel guilty.
In most cases, there is no real reason for the guilt and it’s a self-imposed punishment. Even if nobody else believes a caregiver is guilty of anything, it’s a difficult feeling for the caregiver to shake off.
No matter if they are a spouse or adult child they have a sense of responsibility to look after everything themselves. They often feel guilty if they let someone else step in and handle some caregiving duties. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for deserting the senior.
Ultimately, guilt is a destructive emotion and does nothing but make the role of caregiver even more difficult than it already is.
AVOIDING SIBLING COMPETITION
You never know what’s going on in the minds of a family caregiver. In the event, a caregiver is one of several children they may hope to gain favor in the eyes of their senior parent.
These sibling rivalries can begin when children are very young and can carry on right into adulthood. It’s important for some children to make their parents realize that they love them more than anyone else.
This is not always the case. In many instances, a caregiver will reach out to other family members to help out and often find themselves going it alone. Sometimes, even a granddaughter will step in and granddaughters can make excellent caregivers.
Conversely, there are family caregivers who envision themselves as being heroes because of all the sacrifices they are making in order to help out their parents.
There is also an issue of a parent’s will. It’s probably seldom the case, but most likely there are adult children who feel their parents might increase their portion of an estate because they are doing so much for the parent.
A MISTRUST OF STRANGERS
Sometimes a caregiver never trusts anyone to handle things as well as they do. There is a built-in mistrust of any other caregiver option.
In their minds, how can they trust a stranger to come to the home and look after their parents? How do they trust them to really care for their mother or father?
Everyone has heard the horror stories of mistreatment of seniors in retirement or nursing home facilities. Although the majority really do an excellent job of caring for seniors, it’s the bad apples that get all the press and put fear in the hearts of families who are only trying to do the best for the seniors in their lives.
Ultimately, there is always this fear that their parent is being mistreated, even if it’s not the case. Many times a caregiver simply needs a vacation to get some much-needed rest, but often they deny themselves that as well.
There are however holidays seniors with Dementia can go on with their caregiver. This option will only work if the caregiver will allow trained people to care for their parents while they enjoy a bit of a break.
The advantage of this type of vacation is that they are never far away from their parents.
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Perhaps a caregiver has nobody else in the family to turn to. Maybe they are an only child or have siblings not interested in helping out.
The only other option for caregiver respite for seniors aging in place is to hire someone to come into the home and help out.
It can be very difficult for caregivers to simply allow anyone into the home. They consider what’s going on with their senior parent to be a family affair and do not want any outside help.
The feeling is so strong, that many caregivers put enormous amounts of pressure on themselves to do absolutely everything themselves. Family affairs are for the most part information they do not want to share with outsiders.
Many seniors do not qualify for full financial aid in order to stay in their own homes and age in place. When you think about it, it seems like governments would strive to give as much financial aid possible to those who choose to stay in their homes.
It seems like in the long run it would be the least expensive option for governments. Especially when you consider how much it would cost them to pay the expenses of a senior who is placed in a nursing home for example.
North America should take a page out of Sweden’s playbook when it comes to seniors. The King and Queen of Sweden care very much about the seniors in their country. They do everything they can to keep seniors in their own homes as long as possible.
There is grants and low costs loans to outfit a senior’s home with high tech systems meant to protect them and allow them to stay in their home longer. There are beds that will automatically turn on lights when a senior gets up. There are even pill dispensers that will sound an alarm and dispense seniors pills at the same time every morning.
Doors and windows have sensors that will send out an alarm for help if a senior with dementia attempts to wander in the nighttime hours.
Ultimately, families in North America who simply can’t afford a retirement home or nursing facility will go it alone financially. It’s sad, but many adult children will spend their own retirement money in order to help a senior parent.
It can be difficult to answer this question when you look at it from the outside. Help for the caregivers and why many choose to go it alone can be hard for some people to understand.
Why wouldn’t someone want help? It makes no sense to someone on the outside when they see a caregiver giving up so much of themselves in order to be the sole caregiver.
At some point, the best choice might be for the caregiver to seek another type of help. Maybe they can find some outside help to give them some guidance. For some, it might be a priest or close friend.
For others, therapy might be a big help.
Perhaps the best place for a caregiver to go for help and advice when they are struggling to do everything themselves is to talk to another caregiver.
Who better to understand what they are going through mentally and emotionally than other caregivers who have lived the experience themselves?
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