Here’s a story typical for caregivers. A hospice nurse arrives at a patient’s home, where a man is days away from dying of cancer. She takes one look at the man’s wife and tells her, in a supportive voice, “Go – call a friend, talk a walk, go to lunch, get your hair done.” The man’s wife is a retired nurse who hadn’t slept or taken a break in far too long, thinking she could handle this heartbreaking situation all on her own.
This was not the first time the hospice nurse had walked into this situation, nor was it the last.
Being a caregiver is stressful in the best of situations. It can be emotionally, physically and financially draining. And as America ages, the number of caregivers for family members will grow exponentially. As a nation, we need to encourage caregivers to connect with others through support groups, to take care of their own physical and emotional health and to ask for help.
Often the caregiver only opens up to asking for help when exhausted. They feel they should not need help, and that they can keep going – but that’s not always the best course.
If you are a caregiver for an older person or a person with Alzheimer’s disease, there are several resources available to you.
The National Institute on Aging is a valuable resource for information about senior health, clinical trials and everything related to aging, including legal and financial planning. https://www.nia.nih.gov
Alzheimer’s Association – Long Island http://www.alz.org/longisland/in_my_community_support.asp
The Family Caregiver Alliance, a nonprofit organization addressing the needs of family and friends providing long-term care at home. www.caregiver.org.
AARP – Home & Family Caregiving http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving
Nassau County Department of Aging – Caregivers Page https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/1439/Caregivers
Suffolk County Department of Aging - http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/aging/Caregivers.aspx
If your loved one is in a long term care facility, speak with the social worker on site, who will know of support groups and other resources in your area.
Taking care of someone you love is a challenging and rewarding task that becomes less taxing if there are others sharing the workload with you, and if you can get the support you need. Our office has experience with several social workers who focus on helping the elderly and their caregivers. If you are facing a caregiving situation and need help, call our office.