Being a caregiver can be a fulfilling way to honor an aging parent or loved one, but it can also become an overwhelming job as time goes on. The daily tasks, worries, and responsibilities of caregiving can ultimately result in caregiver burnout, a real and very unhealthy condition.
According to the National Institutes of Health article, “Coping with Caregiving,” symptoms of caregiver burnout include fatigue, depression and anxiety, feelings of sadness, guilt or hopelessness, poor sleep, problems with decision-making, and injuries associated with caregiving duties. When juggling a job, family, and caregiving all at once, caregiver burnout can quickly become a reality.
The assisted living solution for caregiver burnout
When caregiver burnout strikes, many older adults and their families quickly realize how much they all have to gain from a move to assisted living. Unlike the “nursing homes” of yesterday, modern assisted living communities are the perfect solution to caregiver burnout for many reasons.
#1 – 24/7 individualized care: Many caregivers take on the role because they feel they know what’s best for their loved one and can provide everything they need, every time they need it. In reality, however, the “do-it-all-myself” mindset can contribute to caregiver burnout because many caregivers simply do not have the time to do it all well.
Assisted living provides each resident with care tailored to their needs that is available when they need it, day and night. Compassionate staff take the time to get to know residents, so families can relax knowing that their loved one is in good hands. Our blog “When is Home Care Not Enough? 5 Signs to Look For,” can help caregivers understand when assisted living is a great alternative.
#2 – Tons of activities – Staying active, both physically and mentally, is essential to senior health. But caregivers who are already doing housekeeping, meal preparation and so on, often are too busy to entertain their loved one as well. In senior living, however, a daily calendar of enriching things to do offers plenty of choices. Among the possibilities are exercise classes, movies, card and board games, local entertainment, and much more. For more about what to expect from the best assisted living communities, the U.S. News & World report article, “What Activities Are Best for Seniors in Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?” takes an in-depth look.
#3 No time for loneliness – It’s a fact that for many seniors, increased isolation and loneliness can cause serious health problems. As described in our blog, “Senior Health: 5 Reasons Not to Ignore Loneliness,” these include cognitive decline and greatly increased risk of mortality as well as depression and anxiety. But finding time to spend with a senior at home can contribute to caregiver burnout and guilt when there just isn’t enough time left in the day. But in assisted living, socialization is prioritized so every resident has opportunities to meet new people, make new friends, and best of all to spend quality time with family. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
#4 Nutritious meals – For seniors living at home getting nutritious meals can become a serious challenge for them and their caregiver. Preparing meals that are healthy and appetizing can take hours and some seniors may also need help feeding themselves to ensure they are eating a balanced diet. For caregivers who also have families at home to feed, this one task alone can promote caregiver burnout. Assisted living communities provide not only excellent meals designed for the unique needs of seniors but can also meet special dietary requirements and provide mealtime help when needed. To better understand the changing dietary needs of seniors, the National Institute on Aging’s article, “Eating healthy has benefits that can help individuals ages 60 and up,” can help.
# 5 Cost equity – Often a driving force behind caregiver burnout is the fear of the costs of assisted living versus providing care at home. But in reality the monetary costs often are comparable when all factors are honestly considered. In our blog, “Comparing Costs of Assisted Living vs. Home Care” we make that comparison, apples to apples, so seniors and families can make an informed decision.
#6 Safety and security – Caregiver burnout is also caused in part by the fear that something bad will happen when they cannot be there. Among the many possibilities are falls, (which, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalize 3 million U.S. seniors every year) as well as burns, fires, medication mishaps, and driving accidents. But one of the greatest gifts of assisted living is peace of mind for families who know their loved one is not only living well but living safely with helping hands always close by.
At Ganton’s Countryside, our assisted living residents enjoy a healthy, carefree, and independent lifestyle with all the care they need standing ready. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.