The question is…Who will love my loved one like I do? As caregivers, sometimes taking a long walk off a short pier feels like a good idea. It’s the reality of living day in and day out in the caregiving space. It’s the reality of fatigue, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and loss of personal independence. Based on the health conditions of our care recipients, the feelings are even greater for families with loved ones facing cognitive deterioration and physical immobility. While we should work hard to keep our loved ones in the home to maintain familiar environments, the truth is, we must not do this alone.
Caring for our older adults ways heavy on us as loving caregivers to daily provide care to help them stay safe, clean, and comfortable. The grind can and will have its toll. When basic tasks, like cleaning dentures, turning a loved one on their side or emptying an indwelling catheter become arduous and painstakingly undoable… it’s time! It’s time to bring in some help. It’s time to open the door. We must always ensure care and safety as we continue our role as caregivers.
I know first-hand how hard it was to give over care to an outsider. My first in-home caregiver was a student nurse. My reason for using a student nurse was to introduce her to a part of nursing that students do not experience until later in their careers. Many home health agencies require a nurse have at least 2-years of medical-surgical experience. As a medical-surgical nurse myself, helping new nurses is a part of my DNA. I took the liberty to teach while expecting return demonstrations. I looked for attention to detail and voice tone. The ability to anticipate care needs is also a great attribute in an in-home caregiver. My last in-home caregivers were two amazing ladies the helped me with mommy until I retired in 2013 to take care of her full-time. Ms. G. stayed with me until mommy died. Let me not forget my husband, who was by my side through thick and thin, good and bad. Some days were BAD!
The decision to bring someone into our home was not made lightly. Opening up your home to “strangers” is scary. Even with the best interview process of direct questioning and asking for examples, the return on the investment is not guaranteed. And we won’t even start the conversation about stubborn loved ones declaring they do not need help, knowing daily tasks are no longer independently achieved.
Caregiving can be short-term or long-term. So it makes sense to feel good about seeking help to assist in managing the care of a loved one. Chronic medical conditions have a mind of their own. As health conditions worsen, care increases, tasks become more frequent, and exhaustion can cause harm. While our natural inclination as the primary caregiver is to hang in there, being honest with ourselves can save us and our loved ones.
How To Decide?
Ask the hard questions. Questions like, is caregiving a job or a passion? Do you leave things undone because it’s time to go home? Are you flexible? As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, consider the instruction on an airplane. What does the airline professional say? Put your mask on first, then the mask of your loved one. This is good advice for the caregivers. Know when it is time to let others help. Hear the knock on the door, and open it. Remember, your health and wellness are as important as the ones under our care.