Seniors struggle mentally and emotionally as they age and are forced to rely on others to care for them. But what about their family members? How are they affected when they step in as caregiver? What about when they give up this role to pursue a better life for both parties? These individuals are likely to suffer if they don’t receive the proper assistance and support. Fortunately, financial assistance, support groups, and counseling can help.
Financial Aid for Out-of-Pocket Caregivers
The AARP reports that caregivers spend 20% of their annual salary on expenses relating to their role. These expenses typically include:
- Travel costs
- Essential medication
- Food & drink
- Legal assistance
- Personal care
- Household essentials
While no caregiver begrudges spending this money on their loved one’s needs, it makes life difficult for many of them. Thankfully, there are schemes available to financially support caregivers, such as Medicaid. Eligibility for Medicaid varies from state to state, but caregivers that do qualify will receive an allowance to cover their costs.
However, when a senior enters a long-term care institution, such as a care home, this funding stops, even though expenses will still be incurred, including travel costs, food, and hygiene products. This is where seeking the help and advice of a life coach or counselor will help as they’ll guide individuals on how to cope with the stress and strain of financial woes. What’s more, they will do their utmost to ensure that the individual learns how to adapt to life post-caregiving. This is essential when the time comes to move an aging individual into a long-term care facility and the caregiver’s role suddenly changes.
Helping Caregivers Adapt to Their Reduced Role
When seniors move into a long-term care facility, suddenly not being needed to provide care around the clock can result in caregivers no longer feeling needed, while others feel a sense of failure for not being able to continue to provide constant care to their loved one. This is especially true when you consider that one in every four caregivers provide care for 41 hours or more every week, according to figures from the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP. But, when these hours become free again, it can result in drastic measures being taking. Of the 2.2% of suicides relating to long-term care, a portion of these occurred in caregivers whose loved ones were either in or due to move to a long-term care facility.
The good news is that these beliefs and feelings can be overturned by utilizing caregiver and relatives’ groups which are held at care homes. Relatives groups encourage relatives to express their feelings, including their grief and guilt. These groups also offer the opportunity for suggestions and questions to be raised regarding the care environment. Meanwhile, the R&RA suggests that relatives groups help new and old relatives come to terms with the long-term care set-up and encourages friendships and companionship at a difficult time. And, when this is teamed with professional therapy, the former caregiver is much more likely to adapt to the new situation.
Baring All to a Therapist
Up to 70% of caregivers experience symptoms associated with depression, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. These symptoms include:
- A lack of interest
- No self-worth
- Feeling helpless
- No energy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor concentration
And these feelings don’t simply fade away when a senior moves into a long-term care institute. In fact, depression can worsen at this time as the former caregiver loses their identity. As such, caregivers can benefit from sharing their emotions with a trained therapist who will guide them on their future path.
The Caregiver Action Network strongly backs counseling for caregivers. One caregiver who praises caregiver counseling is Anne from Maryland who was facing difficulties caring for her elderly parents. She says that following her father’s fall “I needed someone to actually talk to me—to stay with me—to help me figure out what to do as everything was closing in around me.” She adds that speaking to a trained therapist helped her to tackle the issue head-on and to make an informed decision about the future of her parents’ care and her role as a caregiver. However, it’s not just caregivers that have everything to gain from talking therapy as many seniors in long-term care typically develop depression during this time too.
The impact of seniors moving to a long-term care facility occurs in both the senior themselves and their former primary caregiver. These individuals must, therefore, ensure that they seek out all the support and assistance that is available to them to prevent mental health conditions arising.
*Dave Pegg turned his back on the corporate world in 2013 after a 15-year career to become a freelance writer and researcher, specializing in the healthcare sector. When he is not writing, Dave enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his two Labradors, Bernie and Vinnie.