They say time is the great equalizer. No matter how fast, strong, or smart we are, time has the potential to take these qualities away from us. As we age, our abilities tend to wane, leaving us to rely on the help of others to do things that were once simple or trivial.
This is the role of the caregiver: to help loved ones maintain as much as possible the way of life to which they have become accustomed.
Blount Memorial Certified Clinical Social Worker Edward Harper says caregiving duties generally fall to two types of people: children and spouses.
“In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of adult children caring for parents who are living alone in their advanced years,” said Harper. “Their symbiotic way of life is discreetly provided by family caregivers who are on the phone several times a day and are constantly on visual alert. The vigilance of caregivers has turned into hyper-vigilance. This level of care takes time and energy to the detriment of marital relationships, children and grandchildren.“, Harper added.” The purpose of the “we can fend for ourselves” plan is for parents to remain independent, maintain their dignity and maintain the same routine so that they do not become a burden on others. However, this staunch independence and the rejection of help from their adult children very often results in the family coming together in the midst of crisis to try and apply palliative care. This situation can be further complicated by a lack of documented information and the authority to activate resources.,” he added. “
Harper says that for someone caring for a spouse, the risks go beyond interpersonal relationships.
“The sadness of helping spouses in their 50s and 60s has become all too common. The early onset of cognitive impairment, neuromuscular disorders, cardiovascular disorders and strokes occurring in middle age can be a complete derailment of daily life and hopes for the future, ”he said . “Resources at this stage of life are less, while fatigue, anxiety and fear are high. This puts the helping spouse in a state of agony over the prospect of not being able to maintain home care for their significant other. These caregivers don’t give up or give in, they just give up“, explained Harper..
“Fatigue and sadness are caustic to their mind, body and mood. For them, the loss of the ability to provide care is a failure that comes with relentless guilt for abandoning their spouse. he added.
Through her work with Blount Memorial Senior Services, Harper has met many caregivers in the community and says that despite all the problems and hardships a caregiver can bring, caregivers remain persistent.
“As the number of caregivers increases, they turn to others, form support groups, accept care for themselves and, on a daily basis, share their strength, hope and experience with others. others who take care of another adult, ”he said.
After a long hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions, Blount Memorial Senior Services’ free caregiver support group, led by Harper, has resumed their regular schedule. The group meets from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Vienna Coffee House in Maryville. Harper also offers free one-on-one caregiver consultations at his Blount Memorial MorningView Village Seniors Community office. For more information, call 865-977-5744.