Three Common Scares For Family Caregivers And How To Avoid Them
It is normal for family caregivers to worry about their loved ones on a day-to-day basis. The threat of accidents or sudden health problems are common worries. But there are other scares that caregivers deal with that are not so sudden and can escalate over months or years. Although caregivers never lose that concern for their loved ones, there are ways to reduce the anxiety.
Here are three common family caregiver worries and ways to avoid them:
1. Realizing your loved one is aging and cannot do the things they used to do.
It is common for all of us to lose cognitive and physical abilities as we age. Some symptoms can be detected easily, but others are less obvious. If a loved one leaves lights on that is not too concerning, but if they leave pots or pans on a stove, and forget to turn off the burners, that’s a fire hazard and a scary scenario for everyone involved.
Family caregivers can avoid having this kind of dangerous situation occur by planning in advance and having a care strategy in place before anything like the above happens. But it’s also important to include other members of the family and other loved ones, including your aging family member themselves, in the making of the plan, so there is solid awareness and agreement beforehand.
2. The fear that their loved one will fall or trip at home, ending up in the emergency room.
This is a valid concern, and as a caregiver, nothing could be more frightening than visiting your loved one and opening the door to find them laying on the floor, unable to get up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of injury and injury death in seniors aged 65 and up. They report that 36 million older adults fall each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.
That is a very scary prospect as about 25% of those over 65 fall each year. Many falls can be avoided by scheduling a falls assessment with a prevention specialist in advance. If a loved one is determined to be a fall risk, there are many precautions that can be taken across their environment to prevent falls, reduce the likelihood and steps to take to help maintain their balance. Several precautions may be taken that will assist both caregivers and their aging family members for whom they are providing care. Within many care companies, there are instructional classes to help caregivers learn what can be done in the home to reduce falls and most are free or at a very low-cost through area senior services, for example
3. A health emergency caused by medication interactions or instances of over-medication or under-medication.
This can be a very scary situation because if medications are not taken as prescribed, it can result in physical and mental impairment. Some older adults continue to take medications that were prescribed for a specific condition that no longer exists.
This happens when a loved one may see multiple doctors or specialists, and the care providers do not communicate. Consult your loved one’s primary care physician, bring a list of all the medications that are being taken, and ask for an evaluation. Many times, an initial condition has resolved itself or has changed, and a change in medication is also needed. Be sure to bring along any over-the-counter herbs or supplements too, as those can cause additional health issues and need to also be considered.
Having a plan in place ahead of time can help reduce family caregiver fears and worries. Navigating a loved one’s caregiving journey isn’t easy, but it doesn’t need to scare you! Look into local government agencies and national foundations for assistance, and ask your friends to suggest trustworthy caregiving resources.