Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Who Cares for the Caregivers?

June 13, 2022 Hospice Quinte Season 5 Episode 17
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Who Cares for the Caregivers?
Show Notes Transcript

Caregiving is a challenging and rewarding part of many people’s lives.  Caregivers face many adversities, with unknowns, stressors and worries being a normal part of the caregiving journey.  The mental health and wellbeing of caregivers however is often overlooked.  This is an issue that caregivers and the organizations that support them are acknowledging and trying to address.  With approximately one in four Canadians caregiving for family members, partners, friends or neighbours, who is caring for the carers?  Find out more in this week's Changing Lives podcast.

Listen on 91x FM
You can listen to episodes of "Changing Lives"  on 91x FM each Monday (except for holidays) at 9:05am.  Hospice Quinte is grateful to the support that 91x FM provides in producing the "Changing Lives" podcast.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

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Caregiving is a challenging and rewarding part of many people’s lives.  Caregivers face many adversities, with unknowns, stressors and worries being a normal part of the caregiving journey.  The mental health and wellbeing of caregivers however is often overlooked.  This is an issue that caregivers and the organizations that support them are acknowledging and trying to address.  With approximately one in four Canadians caregiving for family members, partners, friends or neighbours, who is caring for the carers?

In 2019, the Ontario Caregiver Organization partnered with caregivers to develop and define a Caregivers Wishlist.  The Wishlist includes many things we can all do to support those who are caregiving, and what kinds of supports we can offer.  The report suggests that when someone is in the early stages of caregiving, they are less likely to reach out and ask for help.   When situations are brand new and busy, the caregiver can seemingly juggle all their competing demands effortlessly.  After some time passes, caregiver fatigue sets in, stress becomes increased, and feelings of inadequacy and isolation set in.  

Caregivers need recognition.  They need to be heard, knowing their feelings are valid.  Caregivers require greater empathy and respect.  The Wishlist indicates that caregivers have a difficult time managing their own feelings and experience a wide range of emotions such as grief, sadness and guilt.   Calling, texting, emailing and sending mail are all good ways of staying connected, and can demonstrate that we have a vested interest in their lives and circumstance.  Be a good listener and be patient.  It can be challenging for people to articulate all the things they may be feeling, and it is important we let people speak at their own pace without judgement.   

Signs and symptoms of a caregiver who feels neglected can include someone who seems disconnected.  Perhaps they don’t return calls, join in on group activities or ask about your life.  Don’t take this personally.  In fact, this is when we need to show our continued support the most.  A caregiver who seemingly disappears out of our lives is not apathetic, they are overwhelmed.  Continue to call, check in and be patient.  It is not easy to have little contact with the outside world, and for caregivers, this isolation can feel amplified.   It is often difficult for caregivers to ask for help, know where to turn, or to come forward. 

Another sign of caregiver fatigue is the noticeable deterioration of a person’s mental or physical health.  Have you noticed a significant weigh loss or physical change in a caregiver?  Do they seem withdrawn, irritable, or unwell themselves?  Offer them respite, whether that be dropping dinner off at their door to give them reprieve from cooking or offer to come and sit with their loved while they have a bath or do some shopping.  Small gestures can often have the biggest impact.  

Running errands, doing light yardwork, and specific tasks are an easy way to offer help without overwhelming the caregiver.   Don’t be vague when offering assistance as simply asking “what can I do” will probably be answered with “thanks for asking but I am Ok”.  Being specific with a tangible idea is less stressful for the caregiver who will be more likely to see the offer as stress free rather than another detail to be managed.  

Access to appropriate information and help navigating the health system is also a challenge for caregivers.  Many frustrations can occur when information and resources aren’t clearly known or understood.  Offering to drive a caregiver to appointments can be helpful.  There will likely be many referrals and medical appointments a caregiver will need to attend, and physical support can be appreciated.  Bring a note pad and pen along with you when you take your caregiving friend to their appointment.  They might have been too busy to consider note taking as an important step when meeting with medical professionals and being prepared for small eventualities can be very helpful in the long run.   There are many ways to support a caregiver you know. 

If you, or someone you know, are feeling isolated or overwhelmed by caregiving duties, Hospice Quinte can help.  If a loved one is in the final phase of a terminal illness, or the last year of life, we can provide in-home hospice support so you can have some respite – and time to take care of yourself.  We also offer a Caregiver Companionship program where you can be matched with a trained, compassionate volunteer who understands the caregiving journey and can support you with once a week phone calls.  At Hospice Quinte, we want to help support caregivers and their families along this journey.  We have programs specifically designed to help caregivers.  Call our office or visit our website to find out more.  

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.