Caring for the Caregiver – Are you at risk of Caregiver Distress?

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With a loved one acting as an informal caregiver, older adults with long-term care needs who wish to remain in their homes can often do so, allowing them to maintain their independence for as long as possible. This is usually a win-win situation for everyone involved: the senior can stay in their home and their loved one has the opportunity to care for their family member. If you’re providing in-home care to a loved one then you know how fulfilling, rewarding but sometimes challenging that role can be. Meal preparation, housework, medication, shopping, transportation, personal hygiene and regular day-to-day activities may sometimes feel like a full-time job, but to you, it’s also a labour of love.

Everyone’s situation is different however, and circumstances may change over time. If you are a caregiver, it’s important to recognize that if your situation meets particular criteria, you may actually be at a higher risk of Caregiver Distress. Simply put, Caregiver Distress is burnout. In other words, the physical, psychological, social and sometimes financial demands of caregiving take their toll on the caregiver. Down the road, some of these factors place the caregiver in a position where they are unable to continue caring for their loved one due to the decline of their own health. In some cases, they even begin suffering from anger and depression, through no fault of their own or of their loved one. Clearly, this is a situation that no one wants to see happen.

Ask yourself this:

  • Does your loved one suffer from: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, or cognitive disorders?
  • Are you devoting more than 21 or more hours per week to their care?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then Caregiver Distress is something that you need to know more about – and know that the best offence is a good defence.

The good news is that there is help. Recognize your risk factor in advance and take steps to ensure Caregiver Distress does not become an issue in your situation. The first step is answering the questions above and identifying your personal situation. If it does fall into any of the higher risk categories, recognize that you have an affordable support system in Comcare. Whether you require additional resources to assist with light housekeeping, laundry, and personal care for your loved one such as bathing or respite care so that you may take a much needed break, there is help. One of the most important things informal caregivers can do for their loved ones is to take care of themselves.

Caregiver Distress is a very normal part of care giving and is nothing to feel guilty or inadequate about. Nearly one in six caregivers experiences distress and the rate is even higher among those caring for clients and loved ones in higher risk groups. Take comfort in knowing that you can contact organizations like Comcare anytime and one of our health care professionals will be there to talk about your own personal situation. They provide a free in-home assessment to determine your exact support needs and discuss a variety of ways they can support you and your loved one, such as:

  • Home Support: A Comcare Home Support Worker (HSW) can provide services such as grocery shopping, meal preparation and housework to those recovering from surgery.
  • Personal Support: Comcare Personal Support Worker (PSW) help loved ones with their day-to-day personal activities such as bathing and dressing.
  • Caregiver Relief: From our “Looking In” Program™, to overnight stays, you can count on Comcare to provide the same level of care and supervision to your loved one as you would yourself, ensuring you get the rest and peace of mind that you need.

It is also important to know that even if your circumstance may not necessarily fall into a higher risk category, you may still be at risk of Caregiver Distress. A recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that caregivers in these higher risk groups report considerably higher rates of distress related to their roles, in some cases higher than 50 per cent.

Remember, if you, or a caregiver, are at risk, it is important to get the support you need as soon as possible to help prevent Caregiver Distress. For more information on higher risk groups among informal caregivers, visit our website or speak with a Comcare representative in your area.

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About John Hands

Comcare Health Services

My work at Comcare Health Services is dedicated to bringing valued, timely services to you and your family. Consider us as "Your Partner in Home Healthcare."

Since 1969, Comcare has been providing home care solutions to communities across Canada.
Our national network of healthcare professionals is dedicated to delivering personalized service based on your unique needs. From nursing to rehabilitation, to personal and home support, we can provide the level of care you or your loved one needs. Our goal is to help our clients remain independent and safe in their own homes (wherever that may be), so that they may participate in life activities that are important to them.

Your Assurance of Quality
In 2003, Comcare became the first home healthcare company to be nationally accredited from coast to coast by Accreditation Canada. Accreditation Canada is a not-for-profit, independent organization accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua). It provides national and international healthcare organizations with an external peer review process to assess and improve the services provided to patients and clients based on standards of excellence. In March 2010, surveyors from Accreditation Canada conducted comprehensive reviews in Comcare branches across Canada. We are pleased to report that we have been awarded our fourth consecutive accreditation.

We are nation-wide. Please use our toll free phone number to speak with a Comcare representative in your area or visit our website at: www.comcarehealth.ca

1-888-663-5775 Visit Website

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