Yesterday I presented a workshop on Family Caregivers for Seniors with Dementia. The participants were health care professionals, looking for a better understanding of the caregiver’s position and perspective.
I was impressed with their openness to understanding, their desire to find ways to support caregivers in their jobs, and to relieve the caregiver burden.
For some, the information I provided was new understanding. Some hadn’t considered, for instance, why an adult daughter visited her father just once a month at his nursing home. Perhaps, I suggested, he had molested her as a child. Her attention to his needs was actually going above and beyond. Some didn’t grasp the difference between their 9 – 5 efforts to put supports in place, and the caregiver’s 24/7 responsibility. But they listened. They were attentive. I was encouraged!
This morning I came across a blog post,”How to Unplug from Caregiving.” A possible resource? On opening it I had to shake my head. In preparation to taking time away, these were the recommended steps.
- Recognize you deserve a break.
- Plan, plan, plan
- Make sure they have their medication.
- Stock up on staples.
- Prepare meals ahead of time.
- Discuss laundry.
- Get them an alarm.
- Don’t forget the outside.
- Make a list and check it as often as you need to.
The plan is, unfortunately, appropriate. But it sorrows me to know that many caregivers need to prepare to this degree so they can take a few days off and hope – not trust, but hope – they won’t return to a crisis.
The truth is, such preparation is often more than a caregiver can handle. Maintaining the status quo is the best they can do.
There have been great strides in recognizing family caregivers and the impact their contribution has on their lives, their families, their jobs, and society as a whole – both positive and negative. Yes, we’re on the right track, but we have a long ways to go.
Do you know a caregiver who could use a break? Maybe you could provide the care – for a few hours, or even a few days. What a gift that would be.