The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Your Job is Done...NOT!

What happens when your loved one enters a residential care facility? Your job is done, right? NOT. Your job has changed, but it is far from done. When you are the full time caregiver at home, you are responsible for it all, the physical care, the emotional support, and the coordination of all the services your loved one needs.

When your loved one enters a care facility, your job is still very important. Yes, you have given up the physical care, but that is something any well trained person can provide. Only you can provide the emotional care your loved one needs. You are still the most important person in their life. You are their link with all that is safe and familiar to them. You provide loving, non-work-related words and touching, which the care staff has neither the time nor the ability to provide. One woman said it this way: “I get to be a wife again! Before, I was so bogged down with physical care, I felt like a nurse, not a wife.” And don’t discount just sitting and visiting. Socialization, which is as important as exercise, is something else that care staff have little time for.

Likely you’ve already been coordinating doctor’s visits, physical therapy, haircuts, and other services. This doesn’t quit. In fact, it may be even more difficult to do with you in one place and your loved one in another. You’ve probably been your loved one’s advocate for a long time too, especially if verbal skills are slipping. This too may increase. You are a great source of information for the care staff. You are the one who knows that your loved one hates green beans but loves baked beans, that they have ticklish feet, that too much sun always makes them break out in a rash, or that a certain medication makes them very agitated, etc. You’ve probably been social director for a long time too, encouraging family and friends to visit, but watching to make sure that they didn’t come too many at a time or stay too long, something else where only the place changes.

Finally, it has been shown over and over that a residential patient who has a regular visitor gets better care. The staff spends more time with a patient whose family caregiver is regularly present. It isn’t about trying to please you, or show off, or even that you are keeping a critical eye on them. It is simply human nature! In addition, even though you are no longer doing the physical stuff, there is still a lot you can do…get a glass of water, plump up a pillow, walk in the hall with your loved one, etc. things that the staff would have to do if you weren’t there…some of which likely just wouldn’t get done.

And so, no, your job isn’t over; it’s simply changed. However, even if you realize this, it may not be an easy transition. Next week the blog will be about the emotional trauma that caregivers feel as their job changes from physical to emotional care giving.

For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:

For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a physician's advice.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very timely post...My husband will be moving to residential care next week. I am so thankful for this opening. He has LBD and I have been his 24/7 caregiver with 4 hours a day coverage by a caregiver my maximum help. I never wanted to have to place him but reached the "knowing" that I can't continue. I am really tired and his needs are beyond my abilities many times now. I have good support through my caregivers support group through our local Alzheimer's Resource Center but this blog is helping me a lot. Thank you.