Caring for a loved one, young or senior, can become a full-time job. Syndromes like caregiver fatigue are real and growing. Many of us worry about the medical care provided to our aging population like parents, especially when transitioning from their home to a senior living community.
Caregiver fatigue is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to caring for a patient. This often occurs when caregivers, often sons and daughters, don’t receive the help they need or they are doing more than they can on a consistent basis. This can change attitudes from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Guilt can also be a large factor when someone is pushed to the limit and unable to continue the care. Factors that lead to this fatigue include role confusion, unrealistic expectations, lack of control, and unreasonable demands.
Selecting a caregiver is important. Matching the personality with your family member will only enhance their experience, create a caring bond, and reduce caregiver turnover. Change is always hard for seniors, especially when they are set in their ways and have habits created over decades. Make sure a caregiver has the ability to communicate well, understand the patient’s limitations, and adjusts the care according to those limitations.
During this COVID era, it is also important caregivers are following the rules of medical care and prevention. Things like social distancing, frequent testing, reporting of any symptoms, and wearing a mask with their clients are all questions families should ask caregiving agencies. If possible, not sharing a caregiver with another patient would especially be important during COVID-19 containment concerns.
We recommend families interview a few caregivers, to gain a perspective, assess personalities, and understand any limitations. As a medical group, our patients’ families often include us in this process, as it’s another team member that would be affecting patient care. The quality of the caregiver directly affects medical care and comfort for a senior patient.
As seniors are living longer, family expectations are also growing, to keep a high quality of life for as long as possible. This requires a team effort and approach that includes the caregiver, senior facility staff, and doctors. At our practice, we provide any caregiver with our physician’s cell phone number, as they are noticing a change in condition with the patient first. The faster we have that information, the quicker we can implement advice and a treatment plan directly to the family and/or the staff at the building.
Hansa Medical Groupe has offices at 5250 Old Orchard Road, Suite 300, in Skokie, and in Chicago, 847-920-0902, hansamedicalgroupe.com.