When a spouse or family member falls ill and a healthy older adult becomes their caregiver, the senior caregiver also needs support. A state-of-the-art support network that includes a medical alert system is vital to preserve peace of mind for both seniors remaining in the home.
Senior Caregiver Needs Medical Alert System Support Too
Knowing that an emergency medical alert process is easy and quick offers peace of mind to the senior caring for the ill or disabled partner or family member. All too often, however, senior caregivers go under-cared-for themselves since the primary focus is on the "ill" person. Yet, there are ways for others to contribute and relieve some caregiver burden besides providing tools like medical alert systems that are accessible throughout the house for the caregiver and patient.
Because senior caregivers can neglect themselves when caring for another, knowing what to look for to prevent "secondary health issues" in the caregiver helps reduce or manage overall risk in the household. One way to ameliorate caregiver burnout or minimize becoming overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for another, is to identify potential problems before they become larger issues.
More specifically, areas for other family members to understand and offer encouragement and support when needed may fall into any or all of the categories detailed below.
- Become aware of the caregiver's experience including emotional and physical health needs. Is the senior caregiver up to this task? Can he/she provide physical care and emotional care for the other person over extended periods of time? It is also vital to update this information periodically, not just at the outset.
- Know financial pressures for the senior caregiver as they can also enter a stress-filled situation if not addressed and planned for. Helping a senior manage another person often affects their perceptions of what they can afford. Helping them accurately determine what can be cut versus what is essential to continue for the cared-for individual, can help relieve their stress.
- Monitor or facilitate healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns for the caregiver. This includes "breaks" from the situation. Even the most loving partner or family member needs "time out" from the exhaustion of always being available for the health-comprised spouse or parent.
- Look for signs of denial in the caregiver. This is often a common occurrence and may repeat itself in certain stages of illnesses like dementia, cancer, heart disease, or stroke patients. There are times when intervention is required and it is helpful for the caregiver to accept the roles of others at times. This can include sharing in decision-making processes on occasion. Gently remind the caregiver, they do not have to "go it alone".
- Providing avenues of continued communication is vital for several reasons. First, you'll want to monitor any problems that could arise if denial "misses" danger signals. Second, the senior caregiver needs to have ample opportunity to express his or her feelings, which helps relieve emotional tolls that can go undetected.
The unique challenges of a senior caregiver are significant and even with the best support that emergency medical alert systems provide, the human toll can be profound. It is certain, however, that with appropriate support for the caregiver, that toll can be managed effectively with information, communication, and love from others in their family or professional network. Having an emergency medical alert system is an essential part of support.