#5 - The "Tough Old Bird" Caregiver Needs Help
Updated: May 25, 2022
Every caregiver will tell their family that they are all right at some point. Outwardly, they may even look like they are “holding up just fine.” The passage of time tells a different story.
A particularly brutal situation is where an elderly spouse is the main caregiver for their elderly mate who has dementia. The demands and needs of the patient increase over time and are unrelenting. The caregiving spouse will reach their physical and emotional limits. Then their health declines as they just soldier on, year after year. “I’m fine” insists the wife. Her children note that she’s a “tough old bird.” Then everyone is surprised when mom suddenly gets sick or dies.
No matter what, a caregiver in this situation is not all right. They need help and support to establish a routine where they get rest and individual time consistently. Adult children need to become involved. Early on, the couple should begin to explore hiring a home health aide to support them. Yes, it is expensive. For many families, the cost of home care on a sustained basis will exhaust their savings.
We are so fortunate to live in Delaware. Delaware Long Term Care Medicaid will pay for up to 60 hours per week for in-home care. The financial qualification rules allow the applicant to protect assets. (See my many blogs and videos on qualifying financially for Medicaid.) Involving an aide early, as part of the care management plan, protects not only the health of the caregiving spouse, but also the patient’s quality of life.