When Is It Time To Hire A Caregiver?

When Is It Time To Hire A Caregiver?

Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013 at 11:03 am by lifemediamatters

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When is the dividing time between when Mom or Dad can make it on their own and when he or she may need a hired caregiver? This question can be difficult and frustrating, but if you keep it simple­ you will know. Part of the answer lies within your gut, and the rest is left to your loved one. If that loved one was able to navigate daily life independently and now cannot­ it is time. If someone could drive and now cannot, if someone could bathe and now the process is too difficult, if someone was able to cook, clean and do laundry and now is unable due to deteriorating health or mental challenges­ it is time. These are all opportunities to seek outside assistance.

A family caregiver is a wonderfully special type of support when used in the right manner. What I hear most often from family members is that once they become the sole physical caregiver, they lose their role of son or daughter, husband or wife. Adult children would like to be just that, and they should be. I also hear from family members that they are doing the physical care out of guilt or due to financial reasons. Helping out with one or two challenges seems reasonable­ if it does not impact the family caregiver’s ability to attend to their own daily tasks. However, even one area of need­ like providing transportation­ may be taking too much of the family caregiver’s time and may become too much to handle. These are strong indications that it is time to seek out assistance for you and your loved one.

Some indicators that hired help and more constant supervision is needed:

  1. Your loved one continues to miss doses of medication or is taking the wrong amount.
  2. You are having difficulty getting your loved one out of bed or out of a chair.
  3. Your loved one is bed­bound, and it is hard for you to turn or position him or her.
  4. Your loved one falls repeatedly.
  5. Your loved one has developed pressure sores or has complex wounds.
  6. You are feeling overly tired and are not getting enough rest.
  7. You are short­tempered, angry or depressed.
  8. You find that you do not have time to complete your other daily tasks.

Whether covertly or overtly stated, guilt seems to be the most frequent feeling that family caregivers describe. If your loved one is being assisted by a hired caregiver and all needs are being met, then why feel guilty? Are you still visiting or calling? Are you now able to be that loved one’s family member? If you still feel such guilt, I invite you to look into the reasons why. Do they include financial concerns, a lack of resources, or not enough emotional support? A definite indication that change is necessary occurs when your own life is impacted to the point in which you are unable to attend to your daily responsibilities.

Where to find local resources for answers:

1. For finding caregivers to hire, nursing facilities, assisted living, supportive living (i.e. financial eligibility requirements) and memory care places, ask your local hospital social workers or senior social services agency. Call them to inquire.

2. For transportation needs, call your city, town or village. Also investigate local taxi companies or public transportation.

3.For additional resources, seek out assistance from your local senior services agency. They have a plethora of answers!


LMM Founders on Barriers to End of Life Care for Chicago’s Public Radio

Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2013 at 5:58 pm by lifemediamatters

The barriers standing in the way of the best end of life care are numerous. Randi Belisomo speaks with Dr. Julie Goldstein of Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Dr. Mary Mulcahy of Life Matters Media and Ronette McCarthy of Elements Cremation for the Morning Shift.

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LGBT Seniors Fear Discrimination From Caregivers

Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by Life Matters Media

Dozens of seniors and medical providers crowded into the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois Saturday to watch “Gen Silent,” a critically acclaimed 2011 documentary highlighting the fears many seniors in the LGBT community have about end of life care.

Directed by Stu Madduxthe film chronicles the lives of six seniors living near Boston. They go back-and-forth recounting their experiences growing up during the onset of the gay rights movement and sharing their present struggles– ranging from fears of abuse from long-term care providers to judgmental caregivers and family members.

“When someone’s facing the end of life and feeling alone and isolated it’s incredibly sad,” said palliative care physician Catherine Deamant, a member of Chicago’s End of Life Care Coalition. Many in the LGBT community are afraid to show their “true selves” to caregivers for fear of bullying, she said, and long-term care facilities tend to overlook the individual.

“Many who won the first civil rights victories for generations to come are now dying prematurely because they are reluctant to ask for help and have too few friends or family to care for them,” according to the film’s website. Oppression from the years before the Stonewall riots continues to linger with those in the film.

The audience was clearly moved by the hour-long film, with many wiping their eyes or shaking their head with disapproval at some of the film’s more emotional moments. “I find it very frightening what lies ahead of me,” one man shouted out during the discussion. “Is this another reflection of how we handle the elderly? Why should it be different for any other group?” a woman asked.

The film, similar to the 2012 Oscar-winning drama, “Amour,” did not shrink away from showing the hard truths of aging, including scenes of hospitalization and loss of strength. “I think they saw the full humanness of the people in the film– they weren’t one-dimensional,” Deamant said.


More Male Caregivers Emerge As Demographics Shift

Posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 8:30 am by Life Matters Media

As millions of baby boomers enter retirement and as medical technology allows seniors to live longer than ever, more men are becoming caregivers for their loved ones, upending stigmas that caregiving is the work of women. As a 2012 Pew Research analysis on family caregiving shows, 45 percent of U.S. caregivers are now men.

Couple by George Hodan

Couple by George Hodan

The increase has been swift and substantial. Just about fifteen years ago, only some 19 percent of those looking after older or disabled family members were men, according to ABC News and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

“[I]ncreasingly men are being thrust into (or welcoming) the role of caregiver- for their children and/or aging parents- while working full-time jobs,” writes caregiving expert Alexis Abramson for The Huffington Post.

Cultural changes about what constitutes masculine and feminine work also seem to be contributing to the rise in male caregivers.

According to analysis from Leann Reynolds, a contributor to the Good Men Project, “Such an increase in the proportion of male caregivers can be explained by a combination of social and demographic changes,” such as the greater geographic separation of family members, smaller families and shifting gender roles.

As Richard Nix, executive vice president of Aging Care, told ABC News, “It’s OK for men to cry now.”

Workplace discrimination

Still, some male caregivers face discrimination from the workplace for their time spent caregiving. According to Abramson, male caregivers may “unfortunately face a tougher time than women from employers who are used to caregivers being, well, women!”

She writes how male caregivers are more likely to be victims of “caregiver stigma,” as caregiving is associated with feminine traits, that she insists, are not yet valued in the workplace. “Sadly a man who requests time off to take his elderly mother to a doctor’s appointment might just as well be announcing plans to attend a retreat ‘to get in touch with his feminine side,’ ” Abramson writes.

Similarly, Fortune and CNN Money report that the growing number of men taking on caregiving roles has contributed to the overall spike in employee discrimination claims, analysis confirmed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Employers are often more relaxed in applying blatant sexual discrimination against male caregivers,” Elizabeth Grossman, an attorney in the EEOC New York district, told Fortune. “When invoking parental leave, some supervisors might say ‘Oh no, that’s for women.’ There are some pretty entrenched stereotypes.”

The Center for WorkLife Law reports how one man was told by supervisors he would be “cutting his own throat” if he took time off to care for his sick father.

From 2006 to 2010, 147 family responsibility discrimination cases brought by male plaintiffs were decided in court, according to data from WorkLife. Fortune estimates this data reflects a 300 percent increase compared to the number of such decisions from 2001 to 2005.


The Stresses Of Caring For A Parent

Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 at 3:21 pm by Life Matters Media

As more than 76 million baby boomers approach retirement age, some have had to become caregivers for parents and sidestep vacation and retirement plans. Advances in medical technology have allowed the elderly to live longer than ever, so now many boomers must adjust.

According to data from the National Alliance for Caregiving, some 66 million Americans are unpaid family caregivers. Two-thirds of those caregivers are female, and most are around 48-years-old. Fourteen percent simultaneously care for their own child.

In 2009, AARP estimated the economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion, as many provide care for more than 40 hours a week.

Rerouted lives

CNN recently published a feature on adults with rerouted lives due to caregiving responsibilities. Karen Jones, 61, a retiree from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is one such individual. “I never thought I would be doing this,” Jones said. She takes care of her parents, both in their 90s, who live down the street.

“Travel plans now include very expensive trip insurance so I can rush back to take care of them,” she said. “An extended trip to Scotland to visit my husband’s relatives has been put off twice because it’s hard to leave my parents for a month at a time.”

She has no siblings nearby and has had a strained relationship with her parents. Jones said she’s cleaning up her karma and “putting old hurts to right.”

Megan K. McAvoy explained in a new article for The Huffington Post that caring for parents is “a labor of love,” because women must carve out time between getting kids to sports practice, succeeding career-wise and putting dinner on the table.

Some women experience loneliness and isolation caused by the emotions involved in caring for a parent. Seeing a parent ingest high doses of medications, making decisions with siblings, working and financial costs take a serious toll on the caregiver.

According to McAvoy: “The compound physical and emotional impact of caregiving over a lifetime results in a large percentage of women who need care themselves. Yet, nearly half of women ages 75 or older are living alone, compared to less than one-quarter of men. The challenge becomes finding the resources to get care for yourself after you have given it for so long.”

McAvoy, a financial representative, advises families to have early conversations about caregiving and long-term care insurance, although such insurance won’t replace loved ones.

So why do so many children choose to become caregivers? Ellen Breslau, editor-in-chief and senior vice president of Grandparents.com, insists that many children take upon the caregiving role because it offers peace of mind. “They will naturally feel more comfortable with you than with non-family members, which can impact the caregiving and their well-being.”

“It is also a time to give back to your parents in a way that is unique,” she told CNN. “They raised you and cared for you, and now the cycle has come full circle to a point where you can do the same for them.”