Caregivers are truly a band of unsung heroes. Many know from firsthand experience just how selfless a task it is to be the caregiver for a family member, friend, or neighbor. Too often individuals are forced into nursing home placement because their caregiver becomes overwhelmed and exhausted. This is an emotionally wrenching experience for everybody involved. Unfortunately, it often spells the beginning of the end for the patient. People just don’t thrive in the nursing home environment the way they do at home.
Today there is recognition of this, and help is available for caregivers beyond the traditional forms of respite home health care. It’s important for families and caregivers to take advantage of these opportunities. The longer the family caregiver can function effectively, the better the chance the patient can remain at home.
If you are a family caregiver, or you know someone who is, pay attention. Know and watch for the warning signs of exhaustion; weight loss, more frequent illness, depression, and anxiety are common signals that the mind and body are being pushed too hard. Remember that it does no good to sacrifice yourself; where we had just one patient, we would now have two. If you are the caregiver, you must care for yourself as well.