Caregivers often don’t recognize when they are in over their heads and often get to a breaking point. A typical pattern with an overload caregiver usually looks like this:
- 1 to 18 months – the caregiver is confident and has everything under control and is coping well. Friends and family lend support.
- 20 to 36 months – the caregiver may be taking medication to sleep and/or control mood swings. Outside help dwindles away except for trips to the store or doctor. The caregiver has severed most social contacts and feels alone and helpless.
- 38 to 50 months – Besides using antidepressants and sleep aid, the caregiver’s physical health is beginning to deteriorate. Lack of focus and sheer fatigue could judgment and the caregiver is often unable to make rational decisions or ask for help.
It is often at this stage that family or friends intercede and find other solutions for care. This other care may include respite care, hiring home health aides or putting the loved on in a long-term care community. Without assistance, the caregiver may become a candidate for long term care as well.
It is also important to note that hiring professional care services can provide valuable ongoing support to an overloaded caregiver. You do not need to go through this alone. A care manager can guide the family and the caregiver through the maze of long-term care issues. The care manager has been there many times while the family is experiencing it for the first time. A financial planner, care funding specialist or a reverse mortgage specialist may find the funds to pay for professional help.
If you are the caregiver, you owe it to yourself to seek help when you need it. Take care of yourself and your needs both physically and mentally. Seek out professional help that will ease your burden and look for community service organizations that offer respite help.