The holidays are over, the celebrations have ceased and things, for the most part, have returned to normal. People resume their jobs and their daily activities. However brief the respite that was the holidays, for some, has left too soon.
In our area of rural Minnesota, families reunite during the holidays. During these visits, they may see Mom or Dad struggling to take care, not only of themselves but also their spouse. For those that have traveled back home, they may feel an urge to help their parents in cleaning, cooking or other tasks.
Often, the focus is on the ailing parents and how they are doing. But, do they ask the family member(s) that are helping Mom and Dad on a regular basis how they are doing? Do they ask if there is anything they may need help with? When everyone leaves, are Mom and Dad able to care for themselves, is the caregiver able to provide the care needed, or does the caregiver need more assistance? Do they make sure the caregiver is taking care of themselves?
As a family and as a society, how do we help caregivers avoid burn out? How do we prevent further health issues for the caregiver, let alone more potential health issues with the one they are caring for? We need to do a better job of recognizing and assisting the caregiver.
According to AARP’s most recent Valuing the Invaluable: 2019 Update, providing support, training and respite improve health outcomes for all and are shown to reduce hospital re-admissions. Therefore, I challenge those who may live a distance away to be a support to not only the care recipient but also to the caregiver. Reach out, offer assistance, respite and let them know you are there to help when needed. Happy 2020!
Jason W. Swanson, HSE