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Caregiver Support: Knowing When and How to Ask for it

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As a family caregiver, there is no shame in acknowledging that you need a break from time to time or that you need someone to help share (or take over) your caregiving responsibilities.

To maintain a healthy, loving relationship with your parent or family member, you need to find a balance.

As a long-term care provider with communities in Colorado and Missouri, Vivage understands the courage it takes to recognize and accept the fact that you need help. To help you find the caregiver support you need, our team is sharing signs it may be time to seek additional care options.

Your Family Member’s Care Needs are Increasing

With certain health conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, it is possible that when you took on your caregiving responsibilities, your loved one needed very little assistance. As the condition progresses, however, your role in their daily routine could become more prominent. 

Beyond dementia, our health needs can change as we get older. If your parent or family member’s needs become more than you can safely manage, it could be time to seek caregiver support.

You Neglecting Your Health & Wellness

The first step toward being the best caregiver for your family is to make your health a priority. If you are not healthy, how can you expect to take care of someone else? 

Even when you board an airplane, the flight attendants instruct you to put your oxygen mask on before helping those around you. Without taking care of yourself first, you cannot take care of someone else to the best of your ability.

Putting your loved one’s health first and neglecting your own could signify that you need to seek caregiver support.

You are Experiencing Caregiver Burnout

According to healthline, “a caregiver with burnout has become overwhelmed and is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from the stress and burden of caring for their loved one.”

Caregiving is a full-time job, so it is common to feel overwhelmed at times. However, it is important to know how to manage this stress before you experience caregiver burnout. A family caregiver can experience burnout by attempting to do more than they are physically able to (and neglecting their own health and needs).

Symptoms of caregiver burnout can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weakened immune system
  • Changes in diet and weight (either over or under eating)
  • Feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable or impatient
  • Lacking motivation
  • Physical and emotional isolation

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, caregiver support and care options can help handle some of your caregiving responsibilities.

While there are many ways to avoid caregiver burnout, the most effective one is to ask others for help. Whether you ask friends and family, hire an in-home health aid, or transition your loved one into a long-term care community, the important thing to keep in mind is that you are getting the relief you need while your loved one is getting the care that they deserve.

When asking for caregiver support, remember to:

  • Be specific with your requests – Ask a friend or relative if they can do something specific (pick up a prescription, do the grocery shopping, etc.). Break down the task so they are more confident that they can handle it.

  • Be flexible with your plans and what you ask of others – Not everyone will feel comfortable doing each and every task. If someone says that they do not feel comfortable performing a specific task, work with them to figure out the best solution.

  • Be honest – Your siblings or other family members may not know how your responsibilities are affecting you and your health. When you ask for caregiver support, make sure you are honest and explain that you need their help so you can take of yourself.

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Colorado - Northern Colorado