Both formal and informal (family) caregivers provide care for older adults. It is important that carepartners practice self care, in order to continue being effective in their roles regardless of whether they are compensated for caregiving services.
Formal carepartners are better able to establish personal boundaries if they are working set hours at established rates via a reputable company. Although paid carepartners are connecting and building a relationship with the older adult, there are times that they are able to take care of themselves.
In contrast, family caregivers often find themselves in a caregiving role unexpectedly. They usually find themselves faced with some of all of these predicaments:
- The needs of the care recipient are increasing over time.
- The caregiver had another relationship with the care recipient before the illness. This often complicates the dynamics of the developing relationship as the care recipient feels embarrassed of their condition and the caregiver becomes stressed. Communication issues and stress can fuel tension.
- The caregiver does not necessarily know about the disease progression or have medical training. They may be in denial of basic facts concerning the care recipient’s condition.
- The caregiver needs to work at least one other job to support themselves and possibly their families and/or care recipient.
- The caregiver is giving up opportunities for self development, career advancement, and/or building their own immediate families. The can cause built up feelings of resentment, inhibiting the quality of care of the older adult.
- The caregiver needs to navigate internal family dynamics. Typically children are allocated responsibilities based on geographic proximity or other circumstances. A child without their own family or job may be the first candidate to move in with mom and dad. Children usually disagree about the equity of task distribution, leading to feelings that can compromise the level of care provided to the care recipient.
- The caregiver may be caring for an older adult for the first time.
- They or members of the care team are in disagreement on the basic facts of the situation, such as the validity of the disease diagnosis.
- Informal caregivers are always on call.
Regardless of whether you use formal, informal, or both methods of care, it will take more than one person to care for an older adult, especially someone living with a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
One important step is developing relationships with other informal caregivers, through organizations such as ARTZ Philadelphia and the CARES program of the Lutheran Settlement House.
ARTZ Philadelphia organizes a meeting of caregivers on a periodic basis to discuss ongoing challenges. They also host separate events that are meant to provide bonding opportunities for the caregiver and care recipient.
The CARES program of the Lutheran Settlement House organizes events exclusively for informal caregivers. The creator of the CARES program, Sarina Issenberg, also provides individual counseling meetings free of charge, outside of the organized events.
It is also important to employ the help of formal caregiving services. There are numerous advantages for having a home care agency involved. . Here at NursePartners, we have been extensive experience caring for older adults exclusively for over 18 years. Although we care for older adults with a variety of chronic and progressive conditions, we formally incorporated a dementia training module into our business operations in 2015. All carepartners and management are trained and certified in the Positive Approach to Care methodology.