Caring for the Caregiver

The relationship between an elderly person and his or her caregiver is complex and intense sometimes. But that relationship does not exist in a vacuum. There are a lot of people affected by what is going on when that caregiver goes to that senior citizen’s apartment and give to him or her that one on one attention that is so necessary.

For one thing, the caregiver’s friends, family, and coworkers are affected. Becoming the primary person responsible for the care and well-being of a senior citizen is a peculiar job because it is tremendously demanding and completely unpaid. Caregivers are for the most part children or close relatives of the senior citizen being cared for and they have jobs, families and a full life outside of the time they put in taking care of their parent or parents.

So when that responsibility falls to you, those around you also have to give a little to help you accomplish that goal. But for those who are related to a caregiver, there is a demand for you as well. If mom has to go over to Grandpa’s apartment every night for two or three hours that means mom isn’t home helping you with your homework, making supper or just being available if her little girl needs someone to talk to.

If Dad is gone thirty or forty hours a week taking care of Grandpa, that is the time he is not home providing guidance for his kids, fixing the garbage disposal or making those corny but fun jokes the kids groan about but love. Similarly, the friends and working world of a caregiver are also asked to give up a little or a lot of the mind, the emotions and the time of that caregiver so he or she can go and care for that elderly parent and divert that energy and time in that direction.

For those of us who have a caregiver in our family or part of our social or work circle, in addition to the sacrifices, you can become concerned for your friend or loved one because of the demands of caring for a senior citizen. It’s a job that is taxing to even the strongest adult and one that takes a lot out of your friend or family member. Caregiver burn out is a common syndrome and it doesn’t just affect the caregiver. If your parent, spouse, coworker or friend undergoes a break down from the stress of caring for her mom or dad, that will have an impact on everyone. It is especially more difficult for a caregiver that is also suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) to handle these duties as they are already dealing with sleeping issues of their own.

So there is a compelling need for all of us associated with a caregiver to learn to care for that caregiver to help them and support them in what they are doing. Some specific things you can do are…

1) Let them know you believe in what they are doing. Caregivers often feel very alone and guilty that they are not attending to family and other relationships. By letting he/she know you are 100% behind what they are doing and that you are doing fine, that guilt is removed which makes her know that they can make it.

2) Let them know that they are missed.

3) Pick up the slack. If the caregiver knows that you are taking care of business at home so she/he doesn’t have to worry about it.

4) Let the caregiver sleep in. Maybe even bring her/him breakfast in bed every so often.

5) Pitch in. Go over and help grandma out yourself so it’s not all for mom/dad.

6) An unexpected surprise. Every so often does something to surprise and totally delight mom/dad and give her a fun break from her/his worries of caregiving. A movie out or a limo ride around town can go a long way for a weary caregiver.

If the spouse, the children and friends, and associates of the coworker can keep an eye on her/him to look out for those signs of burn out, it may be our responsibility to jump in and give her/him some support before everything falls apart. By caring for the caregiver, she/he is better able to give attention to that senior citizen she is caring for. So in a way we are all becoming part of the effort to give the caregiver’s mom or dad the best care possible. And that is what community is all about.

The Dream Team at Advanced Sleep Therapy consists of a team of Respiratory Practitioners, as well as an RN Nurse Clinician who will assist you in starting out with the proper CPAP treatment equipment right in the comfort of your home and then provide ongoing monitoring to your Doctor. Advanced Sleep Therapy located in Arlington Heights has been serving Chicagoland for over fourteen years. Their knowledge and experience in CPAP machines, CPAP humidifiers, CPAP masks, CPAP headgear, and all cleaning and CPAP accessories is outstanding, which is what makes them JCAHO Gold Seal Certified providers.

Don’t have insurance? No worries, you can always order online from our sister company Breathe Easy CPAP who is proud to offer a complete line of CPAP machines, CPAP humidifiers, CPAP masks, CPAP headgear, and all cleaning and CPAP accessories.