July 2016 | Wesley Hospice

Caring for the Caregiver

Many baby boomers are learning the true definition of the word caregiver.  As your parents, and in my case grandparents are requiring more than just a quick visit every other day or so.  My grandmother is 96 and lives on her own in the family home I grew up.  That sounds great and trust me it is, but all that is required that goes smoothly can be draining, especially when only a few of many family members help out.  You quickly find yourself stressed, and both mentally and physically drained.

Caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, but it also involves stressors.  Caregivers stress can be particularly damaging, since it is typically a chronic long-term challenge.  If you do not get the physical and emotional support you need, the stress of caregiving leaves you vulnerable to a wide range of problems, including depression, anxiety, and burnout.  Moreover, when you reach that point, both you and the person you are caring for suffer.

Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is the first step to dealing with the problem.

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling tired and rundown
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • New or worsening health problems
  • Overreacting to minor nuisances
  • Anxiety, depression, irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling increasingly resentful
  • Cutting back on leisure activities

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout:

  • You have much less energy than you once had
  • It seems like you catch every cold or flu that is going around
  • You neglect your own needs, either because you are too busy or you do not care anymore
  • Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction
  • You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available
  • You feel helpless and hopeless
  • You are increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you are caring for

Taking on all the responsibilities of caregiving without regular breaks or assistance is a recipe for burnout.  Never hesitate to ask family and friends for help.  Be sure to schedule regular check-ups for yourself to stay on top of lurking health issues.  Be willing to relinquish some control.

Hospice Has No Age Requirement

Too many people think that “hospice” services are only for people with cancer or only for older adults.  Hospice services deal with a wide array of conditions and situations dealing with end-of-life issues, all geared towards maintaining the best quality of life while providing the best quality of care.

Hospice care in Columbus, Ohio is available regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religious belief, diagnosis or disability.  Hospice at Methodist ElderCare in Columbus does require that those seeking hospice care services with them be at least 18 years or older.  They can refer you to hospice professionals if you need services for someone needing hospice care who is less than 18 years of age.

Let’s clear up some misunderstandings you may have about hospice:

  • Hospice is not just for the last few days or the last two weeks. Hospice is designed to care for the patient and family during the last months of life.  Hospice is not a “crisis” service.  Patients and families should ask their doctor whether curative treatment will work, and what burden it will place on the patient.  An early hospice admission helps the patient and family get full benefit of hospice services, including emotional support and family services.
  • You may continue to see your own doctors, whether for your terminal illness or other illnesses.
  • Hospice is not just for the elderly or just for Medicare patients. Hospice serves adults of all ages.
  • Hospice does not conflict with the beliefs of any major religion. All faiths recognize the value of spiritual support, pain relief, symptom management and counseling during the final phase of life.
  • You need not be homebound to receive hospice care. Many patients are out-and-about at times, and some make trips while under hospice care.
  • You may leave hospice care at any time. If you would like to return to curative treatment, discuss it with your hospice team. You will be eligible to re-enter hospice at any time without penalty.

To have all your questions and concerns answered about hospice care and who qualifies for services, call Kenya George at Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare today at 614-705-0892 or email her at kgeorge@mecsrc.com.  Don’t allow unanswered questions to keep you or a loved one from services that are available through hospice that could help your quality of life.

Hospice is Not a Place. It is High Quality Care.

When you hear the word hospice, what is your first thought? Before my family needed the services hospice offers, I thought it was a service offered in a hospital setting. It was recommended for my mother, and we were given the option to keep her at home, which made her feel more comfortable being in her own surroundings.

Many people have the wrong idea about hospice care. Hospice helps people with a life-limiting illness focus on living as fully as possible for as long as possible.

The hospice philosophy focuses on providing comfort and compassionate care not only to the patient, but also their loved ones by meeting their physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice is not a place; it is a service and a philosophy of care recognizing death as the final stage of life.

Here are some hospice myths and realities that may help if you or a loved one is trying to decide whether hospice is the best option for you.

Myth: Hospice means that the patient will soon die.

Reality: Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope or that death is imminent. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize a patient’s medical condition and address other needs.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Reality: A large number of hospice patients have congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, chronic lung disease, or other conditions.

Myth: Patients can only receive hospice care for a limited amount of time.

Reality: The Medicare benefit, Medicaid and most private insurances, pay for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meet the necessary criteria. Patients may come off hospice care, and re-enroll in hospice care, as needed.

Myth: Hospice provides 24-hour care.

Reality: The hospice team (which includes nurses, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors) visits patients intermittently, and is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for support and care.

Myth: All hospice programs are the same.

Reality: All licensed hospice programs must provide certain services, but the range of support services and programs may differ. In addition, hospice programs and operating styles may vary from state to state depending on state laws and regulations. Like other medical care providers, business models differ. Some programs are not-for-profit and some hospices are for-profit.

Myth: Hospice is just for the patient.

Reality: Hospice focuses on comfort, dignity, and emotional support. The quality of life for the patient, and also family members and others, who are caregivers, is the highest priority.

Research has shown people receiving hospice care can live longer than similar patients who do not opt for hospice. If this information about hospice surprises you, take the time to find out more by calling one of our hospice specialists at Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare at 614-705-0840.