If you’ve been looking after an older parent or loved one for some time, you may be wondering a few things. Adults who act as family caregivers often end up asking themselves questions like:
“Am I all alone? Is there professional help out there? Is it OK to admit that I need a helping hand? Where would I even get started?”
To those first few questions? You’re certainly not alone. According to data from the Washington Post, nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will find themselves unable to care for themselves without assistance at some point. Today, approximately 12 million Americans require long-term care – and “the vast majority of long-term care in this country is provided, unpaid, by families.”
Whether you’re just starting out with being a caregiver for an aging loved one, or you’ve been handling the responsibilities for some time, it’s only natural to want to look for help. In fact, it’s healthy – and it could lead to big improvements for yourself, and for your loved one.
So, what are the signs that the time is right to hire a professional caregiver? Here are three big ways to tell:
1.) Your Parent Needs More Help Than You Can Give
Caring for a loved one is an act of remarkable love and compassion, but it’s a lot to take on alone. This is made even more true when the demands of caring for an older loved one are greater than you can handle on your own.
In some cases, the time demands could be too great. In other cases, your parent could be displaying warning signs that they need more attention and personal care than you can provide. There are many different “yellow flags” to watch out for, that suggest that your parent could need help:
- Changes in their appearance (rapid weight loss, bruising, poor grooming or hygiene)
- Unable to keep up with activities of daily living (cooking, eating, walking)
- Changes in housekeeping routines
- Poor eating habits
- Mental or behavioral changes (forgetfulness, irritability, mood swings, changes in social habits)
Any or all of these changes could be a sign that your parent needs more attention. Hiring a professional caregiver or companion is one way to help ensure that your loved one is getting the personalized care they need, without having to sacrifice the comforts or safety of living at home.
2.) Your Older Loved One Would Benefit from Socializing
Did you know that studies actually suggest that people who are more social with friends tend to live not only happier lives, but longer and healthier ones to boot?
Of course, as we get older, it can be harder to maintain those sorts of close, personal relationships. Time and commitments get in the way, and, as we get older, issues of mobility can come up and make things even more difficult.
For many older adults, feelings of depression or loneliness can be compounded by social isolation. Hiring a professional companion may be one way to help! With this arrangement, your loved one has someone they know and trust, who is able to come to their home regularly – especially at times when it’s more difficult for family members to find the time.
In addition to helping with activities of daily living, driving, housekeeping, and meal preparation, our companion are just that – companions. They’re friends, confidants, friendly faces. Our companions are always happy to share a meal with clients, swap stories, and arrange trips for your loved one to keep up their social calendar, see old friends, or attend community events.
3.) You’re Experiencing Caregiver Burnout
Caring for a loved one is a selfless, meaningful act. But at the same time, you can’t let your own health, comfort, and personal life fall by the wayside!
While it’s understandable that caring for your parent or loved one is a top priority, it’s important to make time for the other important things in your life. Time to work, time spent with your kids, time to run errands and get things done for yourself – you can’t overlook these crucial things!
The more that you put off taking care of yourself, the more likely it is that you’ll experience what we call “caregiver burnout.” In some cases, caregiver burnout takes the form of depression, stress, or anxiety. In other cases, it could lead to poor health, or even self-harm. If you’re feeling worn down, hopeless, tired, irritable, or pulled in many different directions at once, it may be time to seek out professional help. A caregiver is just one of many options!
There’s a reason that what we do at Companions for Seniors is often called “respite care.” We’re not only providing a service for your loved one, but for you, the dedicated family caregiver. Having someone stop by your parent’s home and take over responsibilities that might normally fall to you? This gives you a chance to relax, recharge, and get the opportunity to put yourself first for a change.
This is self-care, it’s vital, and it could be hugely beneficial not just for you, but for your loved one. After all, maybe finally getting that respite will be just what it takes for you to return to caregiving with all of the love, compassion, and energy you had when you first started!
How to Get the Help You and Your Loved Ones Deserve
When it comes to caregiving, remember: There is no shame in reaching out for help. Doing so could have wondrous benefits for yourself and your loved ones. And getting help at the right time could make all the difference, allowing you to make a change now – before something small might snowball into a bigger problem down the line.
When you’re ready to seek out help, remember that you have options. There are lots of little things you can do that can have a big impact. Looking into hiring a professional caregiver is one option, but don’t forget about meal delivery services, housekeepers, and more. Finding the right course of action for yourself and those you care about is not always an easy task. If you have any questions or are looking for a sympathetic ear, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
And if you’re weighing whether hiring an in-home caregiver is the right fit for you, let us know! Don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns you might have. We’re here, and always ready to talk.
About Companions for Seniors
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are trained, bonded, and insured, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in the comfort of their own home. We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs.