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Caregiver relief: A short-term assisted living stay

Posted by Dwayne J. Clark

Aegis staff member with resident.

When a senior develops Alzheimer’s and gets to the stage where he or she can no longer live alone or conduct the everyday functions of life, a caregiver may need to step in. It can be an overwhelming task that takes over a person’s life, and some even quit their careers and neglect social life in order to dedicate their time fully to a loved one with dementia. Not surprisingly, Alzheimer’s caregivers often experience high levels of stress, and it’s important to understand and recognize how anxiety affects all aspects of health in order to avoid experiencing burn-out.

The stresses of caregiving
Providing care to someone with Alzheimer’s disease is a huge challenge that can be physically, mentally and financially draining. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 symptoms of caregiver stress:

  1. Denial about the senior’s condition and how the disease is affecting the life of the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  2. Anger at the loved one and at oneself for feeling this emotion, as well as outrage that no cure for dementia exists and anger toward people who do not understand the severity of Alzheimer’s.
  3. Social withdrawal from family and friends in addition to activities that the caregiver once enjoyed.
  4. Anxiety about the future and what will happen when the caregiver can’t provide the proper level of care.
  5. Depression that can affect the ability to cope with the situation.
  6. Exhaustion that may interfere with one’s ability to complete even the most basic everyday tasks.
  7. Sleeplessness caused by worry and depression.
  8. Irritability that may trigger negative attitude toward others and general moodiness.
  9. Lack of concentration, making it hard to perform complex tasks or maintain a schedule.
  10. Health issues caused by the mental and physical stress of caregiving.

Too much anxiety can put your health at great risk. Chronic anxiety may lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, upset stomach and high blood pressure, which contributes to cardiovascular complications. In fact, studies have found that people who suffer from chronic stress tend to die at a younger age.

Taking a break with a short-term stay
Avoiding burning out from the stressors of caregiving is important not only for your health and happiness but for the well-being of the loved one you look after. Sometimes, a person simply needs a break, and it’s important to take that time for yourself to recuperate and heal no matter how inconceivable it may be. Some people may feel guilty or ashamed for needing time from a loved one in need; however, it’s important to realize that those emotions are unwarranted, and there is no shame in reaching out for help.

Taking advantage of short-term, or respite, care at an assisted living community can allow you to relax and enjoy your time apart with assurance that your loved one is getting the care he or she needs. You can take this opportunity to spend time with friends and family that you’ve been missing, take care of errands or simply kick back and relax at home. As the Alzheimer’s Association emphasizes, a vacation from caregiving can help you to heal from the mental, physical and emotional stress so you can return to your duties rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to provide the best care possible.

Aegis Living’s short-term care options
Aegis Living communities offer a wide range of services, including several short-term care options. Vacation coverage is available so that both the caregiver and the senior can enjoy some time apart for anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks. The trial stay option also affords you time to heal and refresh while giving your loved one the chance to taste the cuisine, engage in activities and make new friends among others with Alzheimer’s.

Those who need their mornings and afternoons free can utilize Aegis Living’s day stay program. This allows you to spend your evenings with your loved one, while he or she spends the other parts of the day at the assisted living community, taking part in recreational activities and outings, playing memory care games and dining among friends in addition to having his or her medical and daily care needs met by trained staff.

Testing the waters of assisted living
A short-term stay can also serve as a way for a seniors to experience the assisted living community first-hand and determine if that’s the right situation for them. Many find that being around other senior citizens with the same condition provides a system of support that cannot be found even when surrounded by family. In these environments, they can interact with others and participate in activities and hobbies that they were once passionate about. Aegis Living’s short-term care is a great way to test the waters of assisted living, experience the memory care program and become familiar with the warm, welcoming community.