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Caregiving: Don’t Disregard the Mess

I recently read an article where a woman described her frustration on how no one really talks about how messy, hard, and scary it can be to be a caregiver.  There are certainly times where the line between caregiver and spouse, or caregiver and child, or caregiver and friend, overlap and perhaps they should not overlap as often as they do.  There are times when a caregiver may long to be just the spouse, the adult child, or the friend, and not have to also be the meal preparer, cleaner, or bed sheet changer.

How do we know when these lines have blurred too much and the mental health of the caregiver is at risk?  It can be tough to say.  Each person is different and each family is different and each bank account is different, so how do we figure this out?

Typically, when a friend or family member of a caregiver begins to see the edges fraying, the caregiving has become too much.  At this point, the outside observer may need to step in and find a way to help that caregiver. This may be as simple as finding alternative resources so the caregiver can just sit with their loved one and hold their hand, to be really present with their loved one. 

Finding volunteers to help with caregiving responsibilities, even taking just a small portion of the caregiving duties off of the caregiver, can help them regain some familiarity of being the spouse, child, or friend of their loved one.  This allows the caregiver and their loved one to sit and watch TV together, go on a walk together, or simply laugh together. This short interlude may allow the caregiver and their loved one to return to the typical relationship that defined them prior to the disease.

If you know someone in the middle of the caregiver mess, here are some resources that could help:

  1. Consult with your local Alzheimer’s Association regarding available caregiver support groups.

Kansas Caregiver Support

Missouri Caregiver Support

Northeast Kansas Caregiver Support

  1. Hire outside help to relieve some caregiving duties and provide respite assistance.

Respite Care Resources Kansas & Missouri

Respite Care Resources NE Kansas

  1. Consult with a Geriatric Care Manager like AgeWise Advocacy & Consulting to receive guidance and consultation regarding home care versus facility care and planning for the future.  Geriatric Care Managers can also help navigate the many types of support groups and respite care resources available. 

Most of the time the caregiver won’t recognize they need help, so I encourage you to find time in your week to reach out to a caregiver and provide them a moment of tenderness, however that may be defined for them.

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“Again, I am so impressed with the services you are offering and the way you impact lives. You have a calming, caring, confident, and very real spirit that makes the difficult conversations easier. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“AgeWise has the gift of striking just the correct and proper balance between caring, being your client's advocate, and yet effecting change in a professional manner for the children who live at a distance.“
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“AgeWise has the gift of striking just the correct and proper balance between caring, being your client's advocate, and yet effecting change in a professional manner for the children who live at a distance.“
“AgeWise was a godsend. They are very knowledgeable and skilled in working with people with mental health issues. She did a super job holding my family member's and my hand throughout the process. She was very sensitive to managing the cost of her services and at the same time delivered excellent value. AgeWise exceeded my expectations.”
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“AgeWise was a godsend. They are very knowledgeable and skilled in working with people with mental health issues. She did a super job holding my family member's and my hand throughout the process. She was very sensitive to managing the cost of her services and at the same time delivered excellent value. AgeWise exceeded my expectations.”
“AgeWise staff have been a delight to work with for a number of years. They have been integral team members in caring for four senior adults in my family. They have dealt with difficult situations with intelligence and sensitivity. We know we can count on them to assess needs ranging from Alzheimer's care to end of life issues and help provide compassionate solutions. AgeWise staff have gone above and beyond to assist my family.”
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“AgeWise staff have been a delight to work with for a number of years. They have been integral team members in caring for four senior adults in my family. They have dealt with difficult situations with intelligence and sensitivity. We know we can count on them to assess needs ranging from Alzheimer's care to end of life issues and help provide compassionate solutions. AgeWise staff have gone above and beyond to assist my family.”
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“I’ve worked closely with the AgeWise team in my role as private duty care manager/Apartment nurse at a retirement community. Because of the competent and compassionate service they provide, I highly recommend them to you and would personally use them if my family member needed care management.”
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