Why some caregivers are prone to giving up

■ Chronicle News Staff

Recently The Valley Chronicle published an article about a possible murder/suicide involving a niece caring for her aunt in a double-wide mobile home in Sierra Dawn Estates that was destroyed in a fire. This in an excerpt of the article written by the newspaper’s advisory editor, Chris Smith: “Eerie notes posted by the niece on social media and other evidence gathered at the scene reportedly led investigators to believe the niece had planned her and her aunt’s demise. The niece is said to have blamed family members, whom she named, for not offering her enough help in caring for her aging aunt, though the family members apparently did reach out and offer to help her before the event’s final saga.”
“Most people begin caring for their mates or their elders with hearts full of love, compassion and support. However, few caregivers stop to realize how long this caregiving could go on. As months blend into years, caregivers can get more prone to burnout. Frustration over not being able to cure their loved ones and isolation from a social life can, for some caregivers, lead to depression. Some caregivers admit to suicidal thoughts. These people need help for themselves if they are to continue to be effective caregivers,” said Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor in Chief of Elder Care
According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 70 percent of adults over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. When our loved ones can no longer live independently that’s when caregivers are faced with the difficult decision of what type of care to select.
Researchers estimate that 43.5 million people in the United States provide in-home, long term care for older adult’s family members with a chronic illness such as dementia and that caregiver burden is often overlooked by clinicians who have a responsibility to recognize caregiver burden. Caregiver assessment and intervention should be adult to the individual circumstances and contexts in which caregiver burden occurs.
Risk factors for caregiver burden include female sex, low educational attainment, residents with the care recipient, higher number of hours spent caregiving, depression, social isolation, financial stress, and lack of choice in being a caregiver. Practical assessment strategies for caregiver burden exist to evaluate caregivers, their care recipients, and the care recipient’s overall caregiving needs.
In a senior living blog, the following edited testimonial from an exhausted caregiver may be useful to a relative charged with the duty of deciding what type of caregiving his or her loved one may need:

Being the primary caretaker is beyond exhausting and can truly suck the life out of you. I know, it’s happening to me.
I have read more horror stories about families that break up over this. The arguments, unhappy parents, lack of income, lazy siblings, etc. The stories are endless.
My greatest suggestion to everyone out there is this….
Don’t let this happen to you!
Plan, plan, plan and save, save, save for your old age!
Make sure your own children are not faced with the horrors you have been faced with. Accept that maybe you shouldn’t be living on 10 acres of land in the middle of nowhere at the age of 80 and expect people to come running every time you need something and get all bent out of shape because they dare to have a tight schedule and can’t come running!
Accept the fact that once you reach a certain age bodily functions may not work exactly like they used to and that there isn’t a pill for every problem.
Don’t be unreasonable about change or moving! Do not be demanding.
Don’t be stubborn and cause your children heartache and worry!
And downsize for crying out loud! It’s just stuff. Don’t leave a mess for your kids to take care of. It’s really not fair. They will resent you, believe me.
Stop thinking that someone in the family wants your collections. They may not.
Find a place (while you can) where you know it will be loved and appreciated even if this person is not related to you.
Have some control in this!
Accept help and suggestions from your children. Hanging on to independence causes them much stress and it’s so unnecessary.
Once you reach your mid-upper 60s, get a living trust going. Have some kind of plan for the next 20 years.
Anyway, that is my two cents for the next generation.

Good luck!

Notwithstanding all of the above sage advice from someone that’s in the trenches caring for a loved one, there’s probably few things in life more difficult than having to make a decision about what to do with an aging mother, father or other loved relative when the need arises. You may ask yourself: how can I place in the hands of strangers a loving mother, or a caring father? Someone who’s been there for me through the thick and thin of life, someone who unconditionally sacrificed their life to be by my side always?
The best option is to make caretaking of a loved one a family affair. Every sibling or close relative should have the same responsibility.

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