Long Term Care, It Destroys Family Harmony . . .

Nov 04, 2016
Tagged with: Long Term Care, It Destroys Family Harmony . . .
Have you ever been in a nursing home? Who’s there? Who gets sick first? Who keeps him out of a nursing home? (She does.)

When we hear personal stories about Long Term Care experiences, they’re almost always negative. Siblings become angry with each other over whose responsibility the parents care is supposed to be. Dad visited mom every day for two years before she died. When she passed away, she didn’t know who he was anymore. And, all their savings went to the nursing home and there was nothing left for him.

Unfortunately, long term care experiences tend to destroy family relationships. Better planning and communication would’ve avoided the hurt feelings. Long Term Care is always a FAMILY ISSUE.

 

CAREGIVING BEGINS “GENTLY”

We use the Time Bomb to remind us of what happens when we run out of time. Let’s look at the process of caregiving and how it frequently begins.

Caregiving usually begins somewhat “gently”. It’s little more than bringing her some tea so she doesn’t have to walk downstairs. It’s a kind gesture. You’ve noticed her increasing difficulty with navigating the stairs. This is before the fall resulting in a broken hip, before installing the elevator going upstairs. Or, she offers to drive to see their grandchildren. He’s reluctant to give up the keys the first time. Then, after his first minor accident in years, he’s more willing to let her do the driving. Then he fails the driving test for his license renewal. Now she has to do all the driving and she is secretly fearful she’ll have another dizzy spell while driving.

The caregiving role starts out gradually, becoming more insidious with the passing time. It may have begun driving her to the supermarket or installing grab bars in the bathroom. Before they realize it’s happening, the caregiver is in over his/her head. Their relationship starts to change with angry outbursts. As they are now just surviving each day, that “loving feeling” is all but a memory. How might they have done it differently?

People don’t go to nursing homes when they should. They go when caregivers get so sick and the decision is taken out of their hands! Do you have any idea what dementia does to families? Have you ever envisioned being in a caregiving situation.

                                             A PRISONER IN YOUR OWN HOME

The duration of caregiving for an older person averages 4.3 years. This extends to as long as 8 to 10 years when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s caregivers talk about being “on duty” as much as 70 hrs./wk. They feel like a prisoner in their own home since they feel their loved one can’t be left alone 24/7.

                                          CAREGIVING, A FAMILY AFFAIR

                   Note some of the headlines . . .

Seniors with ailing spouse are at higher risk. “Serious illness in one partner life threatening for healthy partner” Boston Globe

Family Physician warns- caregivers described as “hidden patients”

60% (of caregivers) are clinically depressed National Institute of Health

Average duration of caregiving for an older person . . 4.3 years National Institute of Health

Alzheimer’s patients require 70+ hours of care weekly

Dementia present ¦10 percent age 65 ¦47 percent age 85 70% cared for at home by family members

Following a caregivers partners hospitalization Wife faces a 44% risk of dying Husband faces a 35% risk of dying

N.E. Journal of Medicine

Dementia . . 70% report “patient         can’t be left alone” National Institute of Health

Before we move on, let’s focus on the well intentioned caregiver. Family Physician Magazine warns us that caregivers are the “hidden patients”. Sixty percent of all caregivers are clinically depressed.

People who are depressed are at greater risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The Boston Globe recently stated that “Serious illness in one partner is life threatening for the healthy partner”, with a 63% higher mortality risk (than non caregivers).

Some 44 million adult caregivers, or 21% of the U.S. adult population, provide unpaid care to seniors or adults with disabilities (per a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP). The average length of time spent providing care is 4.3 years.

We already know 47 percent of those over age 85 have Alzheimer’s (or other forms of dementia) and 70+ percent are cared for at home by family members. And they report the patient can’t be left alone 24/7.

A recent Stanford University Study identified that 40% of Alzheimer’s caregiver’s die from stress related disorders before the loved ones for whom they care. AD caregiving is a death sentence!

LONG TERM CARE, A SIGNIFICANT FEMALE ISSUE

Women “take it on the chin” when it comes to caregiving. 75 percent of those caring for an aged parent are women and over 50 percent are employed outside the home. Regrettably, women are twice as likely as men to die in poverty. Spousal caregivers have a 60 percent higher risk of depression and other illnesses as well as early death. Too many women live their final years, frequently 10 to 15 years alone, in poverty, unnecessarily. . What a terrible price to pay for devotion.

WHO’s GOING TO TAKE CARE OF HER? . . . THE FEMALE “CATCH 22”

Women have their own unique health risks not faced by men. The American Cancer Society reports that over age 65, 1 in 6 women will have breast cancer. Ovarian cancer adds to the female health risks. Osteoporosis results in 300,000 broken hips each year & 20 percent of those women die within a year from complications!

 

Author: Allan Checkoway