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Family Caregivers in Massachusetts Struggle to Support Aging Loved Ones

Family Caregivers in Massachusetts

Sutton Senior Center Outreach Director Clarke Alderman listens as Senior Center Director Michelle Edelstein talks about being a caregiver for her parents. Photo/Chris Christo

Sutton Senior Center Outreach Director Clarke Alderman listens as Senior Center Director Michelle Edelstein talks about being a caregiver for her parents. Photo/Chris Christo

Anyone who has supported an elderly loved one at home knows full well the challenges that are part of this job. While many of these family caregivers are willing participants and would never think to complain about the work they provide, that still doesn’t change the fact that it can be a difficult aspect of life.

A growing number of these family caregivers are aging themselves, moving into their 50s, 60s, and even their 70s. To some, this is a time of their life where they hadn’t expected to take care of a mother, father, or other family member, and they become caught between those needs and the desire to enjoy life themselves.

This leads to a tremendous amount of stress for these caregivers, and that can lead to anxiety. Trying to determine the best way to support their aging loved one is just one part of the problem. The other is figuring out how to get them the support and care they need.

In the Telegram.com’s article, In the aging zone: Families scramble to care for frail elders at home, written by Susan Spencer and Published November 14, 2015:

“Not only are the health situations complex – the falls, strokes, dementia and other disorders that befall aging bodies – but the health care system is fragmented and complicated. A patchwork of government and private insurers often dictates what services are provided; and many whose needs fall in between hospital or skilled home health care and long-term nursing home care have to pay for help themselves, rely on family caregivers or often do both.”

November is National Family Caregivers Month and there are plenty of support mechanisms in place for these individuals. The most significant is to rely on the assistance of experienced caregivers.

Many of these family caregivers don’t have any time to plan for these needs. They receive a call, find out their loved one was hospitalized, and then immediately begin trying to shift their life around to accommodate these new needs.

Even though the senior may have shown signs of struggling with their basic care might not be enough to bring up the topic of professional home care services. Some family members encourage their aging parent to move in with them, but that doesn’t improve the situation much; in fact, it can increase the level of stress caring for them.

Getting support from other caregivers (family caregivers who can share stories), loved ones, friends, and even experienced home care aides can make all the difference in alleviating at least some of this stress.

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Erica Tomasello

Erica Tomasello, has a background in Education and Clinical Psychology. She has worked with her mother for years, developing Care Resolutions into a premiere agency. Erica, and in turn, the agency's staff, continue to expand their knowledge with the ever growing development of understanding the aging process and geriatric disease. We are a member with Home Care Association of America and NFIB. We are also affiliated with NASW, National Association of Professional and Executive Women, Alzheimer's Partnership, Alzheimer's Association of Mass, MA Council for Home Care Aides.