CONTINUING CARETAKING CHALLENGESJan 21st, 2013 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog
Demands on Caretaker
When signing on to the role of Caretaker, the family member(s) needs to be aware of the implications of that assignment. As family members age, who require caretaking, so do the needs for caretaking multiply. As those needs proliferate so do the demands for caretaking.
While often recruiting additional assistance for keeping up with the challenges, there are frequent surprises which require attention and immediate attention. These are the demands that are often wearing on those who have taken on the responsibility of caretaking.
Part of the issue is the attitude of the patient. Older persons often try to hold up the concept of personal independence. They do not yet believe or receive well the messages their body is sending. They are subject to falls, poor judgment, lacking in awareness of risks they take without considering consequences. Often, they will “furniture walk”, that is moving from one item of furniture to another without realizing how threatening and likely a fall can be.
They are sure they are capable of being careful, exercising good judgment, avoiding the possibilities that may contribute to an accident. Thus there are many dangers lurking before them.
They also wish for the ability to be more helpful, a behavior that sets them up for making unwise choices. They haven’t arrived at the point that their perceptions of ability or independence or making choices that won’t be risky all have changed. They are at high risk every day for something happening they did not plan, expect or imagine could happen. The result is that they are constantly in a situation that may compromise their being able to stay in the home of the caretaker. And, there are no second changes following the one thing that could change their living patterns; it can happen in the blink of an eye and life thereafter changes forever.
Managing Stubborn Unwillingness
Appealing to good judgment and wise choices often does not result in creating caution. Stubborn unwillingness often is generated by their having the feeling of having just one more privilege taken from them. Attempting to instill a sense of the caretaker caring deeply for the one cared for sometimes does not take. Guilt is an approach that just makes for an unpleasant day. So what is best?
Going with the attitudes and behaviors that often accompany the person being cared for may be about all one can do. Employing the principles of patience and genuine gentle caring may detour the behaviors that challenge both the caretaker and the one being cared for. It may be that, as in cases of Alzheimer and dementia patients, they need reassurance, and affirmation and expressions of affection rather than correction.
To be sure, Caregiving is a challenge, one that does not end so long as the responsibility falls to you. What that means is that you must be alert to the implications and difficulties that it will bring. It will be important to keep your own sense of caring sharp and ready for whatever comes.