Tag: Caregiver grief

Flowers with smiley faces in the middle

How the SMILE Technique Eases the Challenges of Senior Personal Care

Take a moment to close your eyes and visualize yourself like this: You have spent most of your life taking care of and assisting others – as a parent, in your profession, by volunteering in your community, and as a grandparent. After a lifetime of living independently and being in control of making your own decisions, you’ve unexpectedly aged to the point that you now are the person in need of help with bathing and other senior personal care tasks. Imagine the sense of loss, vulnerability, and fear. If you’re taking care of a senior loved one, it can be helpful to place yourself in their shoes when experiencing problems related to helping the person with personal hygiene tasks. The struggles your loved one is feeling are real, and a little patience and empathy can go a long way towards promoting a sense of peace about accepting your help. Let’s face it: permitting someone to help with such personal services as bathing, dressing, and bathroom needs is awkward at best, and can feel as though dignity is ripped right away from the person if not managed sensitively. At Dakota Home Care, we’re very familiar with these challenges, and suggest keeping the SMILE concept in mind to help these sensitive situations feel more comfortable for both you and your senior loved one: Safety: Assistive devices such as electric razors, grab bars, a bathtub chair and a handheld shower can be beneficial. Modesty: Ensure privacy in the room and maintain modesty as much as possible. Independence: Empower seniors to retain the ability to make choices, to express their own personal style, and to do as much as they are able to independently. Levity: Be accepting of imperfection. Make it fun. Etiquette: Treat the individual with dignity, as a respected adult. Dakota Home

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Caregiver Grief

When loved ones die, we expect family members, especially those who were their caregivers, to go through a grieving process. Because professional caregivers are paid for what they do, we don’t always realize that they may have a similar need to process their grief when a client dies or leaves their care for some other reason. As home caregivers and families who employ them, it’s important to acknowledge this grief and find ways to deal with it. Otherwise, it could build up to the point of “bereavement overload,” or the effect of multiple losses with little time in between for a grieving process. In one study of professional caregivers in a long-term care program, 72 percent of the caregivers were experiencing grief symptoms. The New York Times highlighted this issue in their article On Home Aides and Hidden Grief. Professional caregivers often build a strong relationship with clients, as they work with them over time. This is one of the great things about providing home care services as a caregiver. Though the relationship is a professional one, it is normal to have feelings of attachment. Families want to hire caregivers who will treat their elderly clients like family when providing home care services. That sort of intimacy means that caregivers, too, will ache when the people they’ve grown close to are no longer in their care. Anticipatory Grief There need not be a death for a caregiver to experience grief. “Anticipatory grief” begins before the person has died, but the emotions—anxiety, anger, dread, sadness—can be similar. When a family member of a client who has an injury, condition or disease like Alzheimer’s that progressively changes their personality, the grief may come from realizing that the person, as they knew them, will be “gone” even before they die. Family caregivers may

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