Sep 15

Caregivers Need a Team and a Plan

elderly man and woman sitting holding hands

Donna Murray, Springwell’s Caregiver Specialist helps caregivers access resources but perhaps even more importantly she helps them figure out their goals, build resilience, set boundaries, and learn how to make time for themselves. Typically, the family caregiver’s goal is to provide exceptional care for a relative that makes living at home safe and comfortable.  Caregivers need a team and a plan to provide the best care while also maintaining balance for themselves.

Caregivers often take on the role of caring for a family member out of love or a sense of duty.  If caregivers don’t maintain balance in their own lives, they can burn out to the point where they struggle just to get through the lengthy list of tasks.  Murray suggests that caregivers start by asking themselves if their own wellbeing is suffering from the demands of being a caregiver. Am I sacrificing so much of myself to provide care that it doesn’t feel sustainable? If the answer is yes, Murray helps caregivers figure out what specific changes will help them.

Murray asks caregivers what home life is like. What resources does the family have and how can those resources provide support that relieves some of the workload and stress from the caregiver? The answers to these questions are different for everyone.

Do you have financial assets that can support your goals and give you respite? As an example, one caregiver might really appreciate help with bathing and dressing their loved one. Another caregiver might benefit from a regular weekly break to socialize or pursue a hobby.  Figure out what would provide respite and evaluate whether you have the assets to hire paid assistance.  Many people choose to put their financial assets behind the goal of keeping their loved one out of a nursing home. If your income is low, respite can often be provided by state home care programs, other grant opportunities or help from family, friends, or your faith community. Who can be part of your team to help provide loving care?

Murray adds that there may come a point when living at home no longer works. Have your loved one’s needs changed to the point that they are better suited to the care provided at an assisted living facility? If a move to assisted living or a skilled nursing facility is needed, caregivers may feel they have failed in their role. Murray can help caregivers get the perspective that they haven’t failed a family member but rather they made it possible for a loved one to live at home for as long as possible.

Caregivers need a team and a plan for the care recipient and a plan for themselves. Strong care plans meet the caregiver’s needs as well as the care recipient’s needs. To maintain their health and wellbeing, caregivers must take time for self-reflection. What changes will help the caregiver stay well? A team and a plan will help caregivers find balance, provide optimal care for their loved one and be prepared when care needs change over time or in a crisis.

For more information about Springwell’s Caregiver Support Program, please visit our website here.