Written By: Michele Bayno BSW, BA
Seniors and their caregivers have many challenges today. A simple activity such as taking a daily bath may be difficult for a senior. Making a simple meal may also create numerous challenges. Medications may not be taken according to the doctors’ orders. Possibly, they may not be consumed at all. The senior may be living alone, and they may be at constant risk for falling. Does this sound familiar?
The individual who is managing the daily demands of an elderly person can be presented with numerous obstacles. Care giving can become overwhelming. The person may be working full time, and raising young children at the same time. If not careful, the caregiver may be at risk for a “Burn Out”. This category of caregivers are called the “Sandwich Generation”. The Sandwich Generation are those people caring for their own young families, and their aging parents at the same time.
Many different scenarios may exist. It may be an elderly daughter caring for her aging parents. It may also be an aging friend providing companionship. Whatever the situation may be, burn out is a possible risk when one is involved with caring for seniors.
What are the signs of “Caregiver Burn out”? :
-Decreased levels of energy
-Catch colds easily and frequently
- Always tired, no matter how much sleep you get per night
-Neglect of your own needs
-Life revolves around care giving
-Feelings of resentment, anger and irritability
- Difficulty relaxing
- Impatience towards the person you are taking care of
- Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, helpless and hopeless
To read more about support for caregivers, you can review:
As can be seen, the caregiver faces many challenges. The elderly person is also faced with many issues. With many years of experience as a geriatric social worker, the most common concerns of an elderly person are:
-A senior is often afraid of the unknown. Specifically, what will happen to them once they can no longer take care of themselves in their own home.
-Will they run out of money in their old age?
-A senior often does not feel ready to be transferred to an assisted living environment. A frequent statement I hear: “The nursing home is the last stop before I die”. This is what I call the “grieving process for one’s autonomy”. It is very important to acknowledge these feelings if you are the one being relocated. It is important to talk about this process with a professional who has experience with this. This is all part of the grieving process. The caregiver also needs to acknowledge how they feel. The caregiver may also need to grieve the senior’s loss of autonomy.
-A senior is often afraid that their care needs will not be met in an assisted living facility.
I have only listed a few concerns that the elderly person may have. Many other concerns may also be present, and it is important that all be validated.
To conclude, challenges present for both the elderly and their caregivers. Being a “Senior”, and caring for one has many unique challenges. It is important that all people who are caring for an elderly person practice self -care. This will avoid a burn out. Caring for a senior can be a beautiful journey, for all those involved.