Are you caring for a loved one and feel like you’ve hit a brick wall? Have you been doing it on your own for years and now you feel like you can’t go on?
If you answered yes to either question, then you could probably benefit from a helping hand.
Whether you’re new to caregiving or have been doing it for awhile now, you may not be aware of the many resources that are available to help make your caregiving journey a little easier.
Two such resources are caregiver consulting and respite care.
Caregiver consultants are trained professionals who help caregivers assess their situations and make plans for the future. Oftentimes they have degrees in social work or nursing.
They help caregivers identify and develop their strengths and build confidence in areas for which they don’t have as much experience. Some caregiver consultants are trained in specialty areas, including:
- REACH: Short for Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health, this is a proven approach used by trained consultants to support family members and others who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Caregivers learn how to reduce stress, solve problems, manage difficult behaviors, feel confident in the care they provide and improve their ability to cope. Four sessions are offered through the program with follow-up sessions as desired.
- Family Memory Care: Used by trained caregiver consultants to support family members and others who are caring for someone experiencing memory loss, this approach involves six sessions with follow-up sessions as desired. Family members of the caregiver are required to attend some of the meetings. While this can be a challenge to coordinate, it can make for an in-depth assessment. Visit mnhealthyaging.org and search for “Family Memory Care.”
Even the most dedicated, loving caregivers will admit they need a break every once in a while.
That’s where respite care comes in.
It provides caregivers much-needed time off to attend to matters other than caring for their loved ones — things like grocery shopping, calling a friend or even taking a nap. There are a variety of options, including in-home programs, adult-day services, group respite programs and even facility-based overnight programs.
- In-home programs: This option involves trained volunteers or paid staff who come to an older adult’s home and provide services there.
- Adult day services: Generally scheduled Monday through Friday during working hours, these services not only provide caregivers time off, but they also allow the older adult to develop new relationships with other participants and respite care staff. This socialization may reduce isolation and provide a better quality of life. You can find a listing of some adult day programs at leadingagemn.org.
- Group respite programs: Scheduled one to several times a month, these are led by volunteers and feature activities and socialization. One example of this program is Lyngblomsten’s The Gathering, which typically involves five hours of care.
- Facility-based overnight programs: These allow caregivers to take long vacations or to get a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep. Care can be scheduled for one night or up to several weeks.
For information on any of these types of respite care programs, or for a listing of programs in your area, contact the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 or mnaging.org/advisor/ SLL. Another resource to try is https://mnhelp.info/Home.
The best way to find out if a respite program will be a good fit for your loved one is to take a tour beforehand. You can meet staff, ask questions and see if your loved one feels comfortable.
You may feel guilty about having another person care for your loved one, even for a couple of hours. Know, however, that if he or she is in good hands, both of you will benefit.
Sam Patet is a writing specialist with Lyngblomsten, a Christian nonprofit organization that provides healthcare, housing and community resources to older adults in the Twin Cities. Lyngblomsten is a member of the Metropolitan Caregiver Service Collaborative. Learn more at lyngblomsten.org and caregivercollaborative.org.