Harder Than Pulling Teeth: Finding Answers for Caregivers



As a gerontologist working with Seniors and their Caregivers for over 15 years, I find it appalling at the lack of resources, programs and products available for caregivers.
Nowadays, the word is out and most caregivers have heard that stress is a physiological response in the body, and suffering from long-term stress is debilitating to your health. And you need to do something about it. When research shows over and over again that long-term stress increases a person’s risk for health attacks, stroke and possibly cancer, we are alarmed. After all, aren’t those the top three killers of Americans today? And if something happens to me, who is going to take care of my loved one? Even the Alzheimer’s Association once listed a statistic that half of all caregivers pass away before the person they are caring for. The message is clear. We must do something, anything to dissolve the stress that is building up in us, day in and day out.

But I find caregivers also asking; What? What can I do that doesn’t take me away from my responsibilities or costs a lot of money? And that’s the challenge, because caregivers cannot take advantage of the same stress busting activities that the average person can.

Caregivers can’t run off to the gym, or the movies. They can’t take a vacation, let alone a long hot bath. And few caregivers have family and friends that they can count on to “take over for a little while”.

Consequently the things we are going to address here are the solutions not the problem. Sure we have to state the problem for contextual reasons, but the goal of this blog is to offer ideas, services, and support for caregivers…please stay tuned as this blog grows and grows, and I hope you find what you need here.
Take a moment now and please scan previous posts. If you have specific needs or questions please feel free to ask.

Donahue Vanderhider, MSG


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  1. Bob Tell

    I have expressed the following thoughts before on several blogs. However, I believe they are worth repeating. Caregiver burnout is a major issue for those with this awesome responsibility. Don’t overlook the role of humor to make things more bearable. Things that made me angry and frustrated when my mother (who had dementia)was alive, in retrospect are filled with funny happenings. This is true too for the many caregivers who read my blog and contact me about my book which emphasizes humor as a healing balm. Caregivers need all the emotional support they can get.

    Bob Tell, Author
    Dementia Diary, A Caregiver’s Journal

  2. Angil Tarach RN

    I meet families all the time that don’t get help until they are at the end of their rope. What I also find a shame is the amount of Veterans that have NO idea that there are benefits available for homecare and respite, paid for by Veterans Administration directly, and an Aid and Attendance benefit that is available as a veteran pension benefit for veterans that meet qualifications or their survivng spouses. The Aid and Attendance benefit is a monthly amount of money available to help cover privately paid homecare.
    I also am saddened by the lack of understanding in the healthcare system between private duty homecare and home health care.
    I am teaching as many Veterans and surviving spouses about the resources available to provide care and respite.
    I have articlel on my blog about the Aid and Attendance benefit, as well as the difference between home health and private duty homecare. For more information and resources visit my blog at http://www.angiltarachrn.blogspot.com
    We MUST ALL advocate for changes in senior healthcare benefits. Our system is a mess, and will only get worse unless we all let the government know that LTC options and benefits need to IMPROVE!
    If you are a unpaid family or friend caregiver, you absolutely need time for yourself. Caregiving is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and no one can do it all. Don’t feel guilty taking time for yourself. If you can get someone to come in even 6 yrs a week, so you have time to rejuvenate, do it before you are at the end of your rope, or ill.

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