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    Becoming A Family Caregiver

    The need for live-in home care starts in one of three ways. It can begin as the result of a sudden illness or injury. It can begin as one of many stages in a chronic disease process. Or it can start as the result of frailties developed over the course of a long life. How live-in care begins typically reflects how caregivers are chosen and how they view their responsibilities. The sudden onset of caregiving may also influence how the individual feels about his condition.

    Sudden Onset

    Sudden onset illness or injuries usually involve catastrophic events like head injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, or massive heard attacks. In these cases, live-in home care does not typically start at the moment of the injury. Instead, the person starts in a hospital to be medically stabilized. From there, the person may go to a rehabilitation facility or a skilled nursing facility. Or, they may also decide that care at home is the best option.

    Before deciding which type of care is most appropriate, it is important to consider a variety of factors. What can the individual do themselves? What kind of physical care is required? What kind of cognitive care? Are there any resources for in-home care support or medical equipment available?

    Families then need to ask themselves some difficult questions. Are there one or more caregivers available - family or professional - who are physically and emotionally able to handle the person's needs? Are the living arrangements in the home limited, or can they be changed to accommodate a live-in caregiver? Are there sufficient financial resources available?

    Many families face the reality that they are not equipped to care for their loved one at home by themselves. they need to plan to pay for in-home care provided by a home care agency. This approach can be the best of both worlds. Keeping a person in the comfort of their home has countless benefits, health and otherwise, not to mention a lower risk of infection and falling. However, there are costs involved that are not supported by Medicare or regular insurance.

    Gradual Onset

    Many illnesses progress so slowly that the individual may become home bound almost before the family knows what is happening. If an appropriate family caregiver is not available, families need to consider professional care from a home care agency. If dealing with a terminal illness, a hospice company can provide support for the entire family.

    Finding Help with Caregiving

    If you are taking over the role of caregiver for a friend or relative whose condition is worsening gradually, ask your loved one's physician or local geriatric care manager about recommending services for your loved one. You may also want to seek training in your community. Both the CLSC and the Alzheimer's Association, as well as many local senior centers, offer training programs for family caregivers.

    Whether the disease process is sudden or gradual, chances are that your loved one will grow tired and frustrated with being at home all the time. The next step is to suggest some activities that you can do together to help stave off the boredom and perhaps even help your loved one find a new sense of meaning in life. We'll cover that in our next post! Stay tuned.

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