As the United States experiences a demographic shift that sees its senior population grow considerably, so too grows the need for long-term caregivers. These individuals are tasked with managing some of the day-to-day challenges that older Americans can no longer handle on their own. This work, while necessary, is anything but easy. There are many challenges for long-term caregivers, a few of which we have selected for your consideration.
Changes in a Patient’s Mobility
Arthritis, osteoporosis, and muscle atrophy are just three conditions that can greatly affect seniors’ mobility. Adapting to changes in a patient’s mobility can pose challenges for a long-term caregiver, not only in securing mobility aids, such as canes, walkers, and electric scooters, but also in managing the emotions that come with a person who is experiencing these setbacks personally.
Dealing With Dementia
Even without a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, or other such forms, many aging patients experience some mild to moderate cognitive decline. Some light forgetfulness can be frustrating for you and your patient or loved one, and changes in personality that come with changes in the brain can be challenging as well. While a few memories or vocabulary may be harder to access with age, you should be mindful of significant changes that may indicate the necessity of a skilled nursing facility in your person’s future.
Patients With Long-Term Catheterization
The installation of a long-term indwelling catheter may facilitate urination in patients who can no longer urinate without one, but catheters also invite specific health concerns that caregivers must take into account. In caring for a patient with a long-term catheter, be sure to keep drainage bags at proper elevations to prevent urine from returning back into the body, where it can cause a urinary tract infection. When long-term catheters require replacement, you may be able to learn how to perform a replacement yourself and spare a visit to the doctor.
Taking Care of Oneself
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for long-term caregivers is taking care of themselves. Caregiving is a physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing job, one that may not always include financial compensation. In giving oneself over to the demands of the job, it’s perilously easy to neglect self-care. Imagine an auto race. No driver can make it to the finish line without taking some pit stops along the way. Explore respite care options in order to devote time to friends and family, catch up on your sleep, or simply enjoy quiet time to yourself. Remember that you need to be at your best to do this job.