Beverly Mishkin, LCSW, Director of Senior Services &
Katrina Brophy, LSW, Senior Care Manager
Caregivers over 75 are a group that is often underrepresented but seriously over-stressed. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute report that over 3 million seniors over the age of 75 are caring for loved ones, including spouses. Caregivers over the age of 75 spend approximately 34 hours a week on caregiving and assisting with activities of daily living. These include the often strenuous tasks of bathing, dressing and feeding.
Burnout usually happens when a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by their duties. This may present as tearfulness, feelings of depression or resentment toward the loved one you are caring for. Being isolated and withdrawing from usual activities is also a sign of burnout. It is important for caregivers to take time for themselves to stay healthy and vital. Here are some tips:
- Practice self-care: Even though you may not have as much free time, get enough sleep, schedule regular outings and take care of your own health. Eat healthy meals and snacks to keep energy levels up.
- Reach out: Staying isolated can cause anxiety. Reach out to friends and family – chances are someone within your social network is also a caregiver. One of JFCS’s services, Secure@Home, provides monthly outreach phone calls to access client needs and provide an outlet for problems and questions.
- Accept Help: Don’t let pride get in the way of a neighbor or family member who wants to pitch in with errands, yard work or other needs. People genuinely want to help you, let them and enjoy whatever free time it provides!
- IT’S OK!: Remember that taking care of yourself is part of taking care of others. Your loved one wants you to be healthy and happy.
Jewish Family & Children’s Service offers the Mercer County Caregiver Support Helpline to connect families to resources and information. This is a free service and is available to all residents of Mercer County. The agency also offers its caregiver support groups as well as certified Geriatric Care Managers through the Secure@Home program. In this membership program, the Geriatric Care Managers will coordinate all health-related or other needed services during crisis or illness as well as advocate and provide support for you and your family.
To reach the Mercer County Caregiver Support Helpline please call 609-987-8100 x137.