When you are an Elder Care Giver
Help for Sonoma County Caregivers
Often times, it is possible for an elder person to stay in their own home or to move into
your home. As we have discussed in our previous articles, the first step will be to determine
what types of assistance your loved one will need to accomplish the tasks of daily living.
If professional types of in-home elder care
are needed, our article on screening in-home elder care providers in Sonoma County, California
will help you to choose the very best help you can get for the elder person in your life.
It may be that you will be providing most of the care with paid assistance forming only a
small part of your care plan, or work schedules may make it necessary for your loved one to
enroll in an adult day program as well as having a health aide or registered nurse pay
Whatever arrangements your family eventually comes to in order to take care of the needs
of the elder family member, this change in the basic structure of family life is almost never
an easy one to make. One of the challenges in watching our parents or relations age is that
it involves a complete turnaround in the way that we have to view the person who needs
assistance. At one time, this person may have been the one taking 24 hour care of you.
Watching an individual who was once competent to perform all of life's daily tasks losing
their physical strength or health may cause us to feel fear, depression, or anxiety. These
are normal responses, but if you find yourself being overwhelmed by such feelings so that
you become unable to attend to the necessities of your own life, you may wish to consider
seeking some counseling to help you regain your feelings of empowerment in the midst of
these considerable life changes. Counseling may also be a truly helpful idea for the elder
person who may be feeling even more afraid, depressed, or frustrated with life than you are.
Caregivers need to take care of themselves
According to a well-written article featured on the website of the
Family Caregiver Alliance,
which serves as America's National Center on Caregiving, in the effort to provide the best
possible care for a family member or friend, caregivers often sacrifice their own physical
and emotional needs, and the emotional and physical experiences involved with providing care
can strain even the most capable person. The article goes on to explain how anger, sadness,
exhaustion, and feelings of isolation can result, and that these feelings may be followed by
guilt. Though everyone experiences all of these feelings from time to time, if they become
constant or intense, this may be a warning sign that you, the caregiver, are suffering from
depression. Counseling, a healthy diet, exercise, and support from family and friends
can help prevent depression from becoming deeply rooted.
It's important for you to know that research suggests that those who care for loved ones with
dementia are twice as likely to suffer from depression as those who are caring for a person
without dementia. Because the needs of dementia sufferers can be extreme, missed work,
physical exhaustion, family conflicts, and loss of personal time may result. Symptoms of
dementia such as wandering, restlessness, and inappropriate behavior can add a great deal of
stress to the daily life of the caregiver. If you feel you may be suffering from depression,
we recommend a complete read of the Family Caregiver Alliance's article,
Caregiving and Depression.
Whether you are caring for a loved one who has a progressive brain disorder such as Alzheimer's,
or other reasons have made it essential that the elder person receives assistance, chances
are you will need to educate yourself regarding whatever the illnesses or challenges are that
your loved one is facing. Your family doctor may be of assistance to you in this. A trip to
the library or bookstore will certainly provide you with a wealth of educational reading
material on various geriatric conditions, and the Internet has become a wonderful resource
both for caregiver education and support. For we Bay Area residents, the VNA and Home Hospice of Northern California
offers an ongoing support program for families and caregivers. Getting yourself the help
and support that you need to be leading a peaceful and healthy life are going to be vital
in order for you to offer the best care you can give to your loved one. Please do take a gander
at the resources we've mentioned.
Financial concerns are very real
Emotional stress may be only one of the challenges facing caregivers. Becoming financially
responsible for the total or partial care of your loved one can present genuine financial
difficulties for many families. Paying professional housekeepers, homemakers, and registered
nurses may suddenly become a part of your monthly budget. Sonoma County residents should know
about a couple of local resources which may make quality care for the elder person in their
life more affordable.
In-Home Support Services
(IHSS) provides in-home care to local elders and disabled persons. You may call IHSS at
(707) 565-5900 to schedule an appointment with a social worker who will visit your home to
assess the needs of the person in question and to determine how many hours of care will be
needed. 52% of the recipients of the IHSS program are seniors.
Another helpful resource for Sonoma County citizens is
Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa.
Catholic Charities offers various helpful programs, including an Alzheimer's Day Care/Respite
program. This service provides respite as well as training and support for families and
Sonoma County residents may also find a visit to the website of the Sonoma County Area Agency on Aging
to be useful when researching resources related to local elder care. The SOCOAAA is a branch
of the Human Services department.
Facing the challenges of witnessing the declining health, or simply the natural aging process
of a loved one can cause a caregiver to experience feelings of powerlessness. Fortunately for
Sonoma County residents, many truly helpful resources are at our disposal. Educating yourself
about what is available may be the very best thing you can do to gain confidence and peace
of mind during this time of change.
Please visit our list of Elder Care Resources in Sonoma County, California
for more information.