Frequently Requested Phone Numbers:
Area Agency on Aging 1.800.442.1713
Benzie Bus 1.866.325.338 or 325.3000
Benzie Christian Neighbors (BACN) 882.9544
Benzie County Council on Aging 1.888.893.1102 or 325-4851
Benzie Housing Council 325.6400
Benzie Leelanau Public Health Department 882-4409
CHAP/Grand Traverse Regional Health Care Coalition 1.231.935.2100
Foot Clinic (Dr. Sheldon) at Paul Oliver 1.231.946.9122
Manistee Benzie Community Mental Health 1.877.398.2013 or 882-2100
Meals on Wheels 325.4851
Paul Oliver Hospital 352.9621
What Is Caring for Caregivers?
Caregivers face many challenges. Caregiving is a demanding task and it is easy to neglect one’s own health and wellbeing when you are involved with your loved one’s needs.
Caregivers need time off from their caregiving responsibilities to relieve stress and prevent burnout. Effective, sustainable caregiving depends on meeting the caregiver’s own needs for nurture, reassurance, support and periodic respite.
We can provide a home health aide that comes to the home and sits or cares for your loved one for up to 2 hours twice a week or 4 hours once a week on a scheduled basis. Services might include companionship, reading, meal preparation, personal care, light housekeeping, or assistance with ambulation or exercise. Our services can also be used in conjunction with hospice care.
Dangers of Burnout
Caregivers are at increased risk of depression and other symptoms of distress. Perhaps you feel guilty because you think you aren’t doing enough, and you’re frustrated that you can’t do more. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious or overwhelmed, that is understandable – this is a difficult time for you – and help is available.
The symptoms of burnout are very similar to those of depression. Are you experiencing:
- Persistent symptoms of depression
- Constant anxiety, irritability or anger
- Feelings of detachment, numbness or exhaustion
- Continuous self-criticism
- Withdrawal from usual activities
- Negligence or hatred of caregiving responsibilities
- Trouble at work or in relationships
- Substance abuse
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that seniors providing care for an ailing spouse are likely to become sick more often and experience more stress than similar people who aren’t caregivers. Make sure that you get regular medical checkups. If you have any symptom of depression (extreme sadness, trouble concentrating, apathy, hopelessness or thoughts about death), see a doctor right away. Depression is an illness that can and should be treated.
Care for the Caregiver Tips
Here are ways you may care for yourself while caring for others:
- If you can’t leave and friends can’t come over, take time each day for a phone conversation with a friend or family member. Even a brief chat might lift your spirits.
- Eat nutritious meals. Don’t give in to stress-driven urges for sweets or drink too much alcohol.
-Get enough sleep. If you are kept up at night, try a nap during the day to make up for lost sleep.
- Make a list of jobs you need help with and seek out someone to assist you. This may include household chores, home repair or maintenance, driving, paying bills or finding information on services you need. Link to online program Share the Caring and Lotsa Helping Hands.
- Join a support group. An Alzheimer’s support group meets monthly at Paul Oliver Hospital. Contact Jeanette McNinch for more information (231-352-2208). For homebound caregivers, they offer an Internet-based support group. See Links for more resources.
- Draw strength from your faith. Even home visits from a member of your church are a way to keep you in touch.
- Take time to pamper yourself. Take a warm bath…find time to relax each day.
- Plan a weekend getaway or a week long vacation. Local respite care can be arranged.
How Can Support Groups Help?
Caregiver support groups may help alleviate the stress and strain of caregiving. Support groups allow you to meet others in situations much like yours. You can talk, vent, and exchange hints with people who understand. For those who cannot easily leave home, there are online message boards and forums that may provide much needed support.
Respite care provides a break for you and care for your loved one. With respite care, you can feel safe leaving your loved one while you run errands, shop or just relax. More extensive respite may allow you to continue working outside your home or help you juggle caring for your children and an elderly adult.
Above all, remember to take care of yourself. If you are sick, exhausted or overworked, you can’t provide good care for anyone. Caregiving is an act of love, but is also a demanding and challenging job. No one can handle it alone. Getting help for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your loved one, and it will help you to keep giving top-quality care.
If you neglect yourself, you are putting your loved one at risk. Taking time for yourself will benefit both you and your care recipient.