Lightening the Load for the Caregiver
National Institute on Aging
Your mother may be hesitant to ask for help, or to say that she needs a break. Be sure to acknowledge how important her care has been for your father. Also discuss the physical and emotional effects caregiving can have on people. True, caregiving can be satisfying, but it also can be very hard work. Offer to help arrange for respite care.
Respite care will give your mother a break from her caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be for an afternoon or for several days. Care can be provided in the family home, or your dad may spend the time in an adult day services program or at a skilled nursing facility. The ARCH National Respite Locator Service can help you to find services in your parent’s community. You might suggest your mother contact the Well Spouse Association—it offers support to the wives, husbands, and partners of chronically ill or disabled people and has a nationwide listing of local groups. The Resources section of this booklet has information on how to contact these organizations.
Your parents may need more help from home-based care to continue to live in their own home. Some people find it hard to have paid caregivers in the house but most also say that the help is invaluable. If your mother is reluctant, point out that with in-home help she may have more energy to devote to your father’s care and some time for herself.
Over time, your father may need to move to assisted living or a nursing home. If that happens, try to support your mother. You can help her select a facility. She may need help adjusting to his absence or to living alone in their home. Just listening may not sound like much help, but often it is.
©2007 National Institute of Aging