Caregivers of the Elderly

by Julie Fletcher

During my time as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I spent most of my time caring for nursing home residents who suffered from Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I have seen so many tired and depressed residents, along with families who seem so lost. Dementias can wreak havoc on a family, especially those who do not have the resources or support that they need. In the midst of the doctor’s appointments, the flurry of care decisions, and arguments, the victim and their families lose touch with one another’s needs.

Caregivers tend to forget about themselves. Depression is a danger while caring for a loved one affected by this disease. Feelings of helplessness, loss, anger, and being inadequate runs rampant in the caregiver community. If you are the caregiver or relative of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, you don’t have to feel this way. There are a multitude of resources available to you online and through your community.

The internet is a vast reservoir of information concerning health topics. Websites, forums, and newsgroups can help you find your way through this time of coping. In most areas there are community based support groups that advertise though Yahoo Groups or Craigslist. Your local newspaper is also an excellent source of support group information. A newspaper will often have times and phone numbers listed to help you in contacting the groups.

If your loved one is already in a long term care facility, try to strike up friendships with the Nursing Assistants who are providing the personal care. Most people think that nurses are responsible for the day to day care of residents, but that just is not true. Yes, nurses oversee the work of CNAs and give medicines, but nursing assistants provide the basic care for all patients. From bathing to feeding, these are the ones who do it all. Forming a relationship with the nursing assistants will also help ensure that your family member gets the proper care they are entitled to. It will also give you a great insight into the condition of your loved one.

Make sure to talk to the CNAs and nurses each time you visit. Being friendly and not agitated in your manner helps keep down miscommunications. These workers can give you so many tips on how to help your loved one be more comfortable and also help alleviate your grief, if only a small fraction. The staff who cares for your relative becomes attached and cares very much for their patients. It’s hard on a CNAor nurse when their patients pass, so they will try to help you learn to walk down your road ahead with grace and understanding.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007 at 8:14 pm and is filed under Mental Health, Stress Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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