Need Support? Check These Five Ideas
Connection keeps us grounded in healthy reality, but isolation allows for a
downward spiral which can lead into depression and exhaustion. So how does the
overworked and under-rested caregiver acquire the necessary—yet seemingly
illusive—link with people who can provide them the most practical help?
Whether the person being cared for has dementia or any one of a number of
other illnesses, the very nature of the job leaves the caregiver so hyper-focused
on the work they’re doing—the work that’s consuming them—they actually reach
a place of believing they are completely isolated.
The question at this point is, “What can be done about it?”
One of the first things I tell people is they are going to have to be deliberate about
getting some help. Now, it’s at this point I start hearing all the reasons they can’t
My siblings refuse to lift a finger
I’m an only child
I can’t ask other family members for help
The only other person in our family lives three hours away.
These reasons, and dozens of others like them, are very valid reasons the
caregiver feels so alone and overburdened. But stay with me; I have a few
suggestions that I hope will help.
A first place to check would be with your loved one’s physician. It is possible they
could recommend home health services which may be covered by your loved
one’s insurance (always verify exactly what’s covered and what’s not before
committing to anything).
Another consideration for the dementia patient would be the use of an adult day
care. Some insurance policies, including long-term care policies, may cover part of
the cost. Again, you’ll want to double check what the coverage is before signing
An absolutely wonderful resource is the Alzheimer’s Association. They have a
“Programs and Support” page on their website. They offer a free and confidential helpline 24/7 at 800-272-3900. Because they have local chapters throughout the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association may be able to recommend some immediate and very
tangible help for the exhausted caregiver.
Your local church is also an excellent place to find volunteers who are willing to sit
with your loved one as you run your errands or as you simply take a well-deserved
break. It is not uncommon for churches to have a ministry outreach specifically
for seniors, so this would be a great place to call and ask what kind of help might
be available to assist with your loved one who requires full-time care.
One final thought for you to consider is when people ask you, “Is there anything I
can do to help?” By all means: let them help! See if they can run to the grocery or
pharmacy for you, or ask if they’re able to sit with your loved one while you take
care of your own “to-do list.”
It is imperative for caregivers to understand this job can’t be done alone. There is
a physical component as you run a loved one to and from doctors’ appointments
along with pharmacy and grocery runs between loading daily medicine
dispensers; then there is the emotional component of watching your loved one go
down, sometimes by inches—it’s devastating. So please, for your own sake and
for the sake of the one you’re caring for, reach out and get the help you need.
“Exhaustion” never provided help to anyone.