Many family caregivers find looking after a parent or relative who once cared for them to be deeply rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be an immensely challenging role. Some caregivers begin supporting an aging loved one suddenly following an acute illness or injury, but many adopt the role more gradually as their relative ages.
Regardless of how you came to be a family caregiver, you will likely need to seek out additional support at some stage. And as the demands of caregiving often progress slowly as a senior’s health declines, it can be difficult to identify when that extra help is required.
Here are five useful signs that you might need additional support from friends, family members or professionals.
- Your Physical Health is Declining
Caring for an aging senior can be intensely physically demanding. How you cope with this will depend on a variety of factors, including the level of support your loved one requires, as well as your own general health and medical needs.
If you’ve been feeling physically weak or run down, or are lacking confidence in caring for a loved one with reduced mobility, seeking support might be beneficial. Speak to an occupational therapist about mobility aids and adapted living spaces for your loved one or look into residential care homes or assisted living facilities in Metairie.
- You’re Experiencing Anxiety or Depression
Family caregivers sometimes feel guilty about struggling emotionally with the demands of caregiving, but being a family caregiver is a taxing role. Feeling emotional is natural, and doesn’t mean you don’t want to help your loved one.
Mixed emotions are also common – while you might find caregiving rewarding and fulfilling in some respects, you might also often feel overwhelmed or anxious. If you have noticed feelings of anxiety, depression, resentment or irritability building, it’s important to seek emotional support.
This could be something as simple as meeting a friend for coffee and venting your worries, or attending a local caregiver support group. If caregiving is becoming extremely emotionally overwhelming, meeting with a therapist or exploring residential assisted living options might be appropriate.
- You’re Struggling to Juggle Your Responsibilities
Caring for an aging parent can feel like a full-time role, but most family caregivers have a whole host of additional responsibilities to take care of, too. If you’ve noticed you have been spreading yourself too thin – perhaps struggling to keep up with the demands of childcare or work – you may need some extra support.
This support might come from asking other family members or friends to help with your loved one’s care, or by seeking professional respite care or residential assisted living for your relative.
- You’re Feeling Socially Isolated and Lonely
Isolation and feelings of loneliness are common amongst family caregivers. If your loved one’s needs are especially demanding, you might simply not have time to stay as socially connected to friends and family members as you would like to.
If you’ve found yourself feeling increasingly withdrawn, looking into residential assisted living or simply asking a family member to help with your loved one’s care could allow you to rekindle important friendships and support systems.
- Your Loved One’s Needs Have Increased
While family caregivers often wish they could make everything better for their loved one, this is rarely possible. Aging seniors often have a range of complex acute and chronic health conditions that require careful management. Some of these conditions are best supported with expert care.
For example, if your loved one has a progressive condition like Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, there will likely come a point when you’re no longer able to care for them alone. Perhaps they’re becoming a risk to you or themselves with increased agitation, aggressiveness or sundowning syndrome.
Oftentimes, a senior’s health will decline gradually, making it difficult for family caregivers to recongize when the time has come to seek out professional support. Keeping notes of your loved one’s day-to-day health and wellbeing may help you decide when it’s the right time to ask for help.
Where to Get Help
Identifying that you need support is the first step, but knowing where to get the right type of assistance is equally as important. Depending on your needs, you might turn to family members and friends for practical or emotional support, or professional caregiving services if your loved one’s needs are becoming too complex to cope with alone.
When choosing an assisted living community or residential care home, think about your loved one’s unique needs and hone your shortlist accordingly. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a residential assisted living facility in Metairie offering specialist memory care might be the ideal choice.
For more information on our commitment to supporting seniors with dementia and family caregivers in Metairie and beyond, get in touch today to arrange a personalized tour.