The first strategy for dealing with the stress and preventing caregiver burnout is: Don’t try to do it all alone. Taking on all of the responsibilities of caregiving without regular breaks or assistance will guarantee burnout. Ask for help when you need it, and seriously consider respite care services. Respite care means taking a break from caregiving because someone else is taking care of your family member. Try to get away from your caregiving duties on a regular basis.
One type of respite care break is when relatives or friends stay with the family member, enabling the caregiver to leave the home and get some needed rest. If that is not possible, formal respite care services are available through a number of agencies. There are several types of formal respite care: companions, home health aides, adult day care, and overnight care in a facility such as a nursing home.
A home health care agency can also provide this service, relieving you of providing some personal care such as bathing and toileting. These tasks can be difficult, both physically and emotionally, and contribute greatly to caregiver burnout. By having a home health care agency involved in the care, it’ll give you a break and relief, knowing that the family member is good hands. The Michigan Home Health Association, located in Okemos, is a good resource for home care agencies. They can provide you with a list of agencies in your area. In future articles I will discuss the different services home health care agencies offer, and how to select the right agency.
Other resources to consider are senior centers, senior services organizations, adult day care centers, hospital gerontology departments, family services, or hospital social work units. All can provide you with a list of resources.
The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging is your state resource for information on aging. You can easily find and be referred to community programs available in your local area. Their phone number is (517) 373-8230.
Area Agency on Aging 1B provides resources to people residing in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties. Here, trained specialists help connect seniors and caregivers to the resources and services they need. Call them at (800) 852-7795. Their website is www.aaa1b.com. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging, which offers the same type of services for residents in Detroit, can be reached by calling (313) 446-4444.
As you can see, you are not alone. There are many options, and help is available.