It Takes a Village

By Tim Mitchell, Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E.

He was a very busy business owner, a caregiver for his aging mother, and now, a caregiver for his wife who could no longer be left alone.  His children were grown and had families of their own in another state and other extended family members were also all out of state.  The natural question came to the surface as he sat behind his desk appearing to have everything under control, “How do you do all this by yourself?”  His reply, “I don’t.  I tell people all the time, ‘It takes a village.’  I couldn’t do this without other people to help me.  Fortunately, I have been able to hire someone to help care for my wife while I’m working and I have also been connected to other resources within the community to help me.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do everything I need to do.”

When dealing with an aging loved one, whether it be a spouse, parent, grandparent, or other relative or friend, it does “take a village.”  While some caregivers seem to have it all together, you never know what goes on behind the scenes.  It is very important for an aging person or the caregiver(s) of an older adult to recognize they can’t do everything on their own, and they shouldn’t.  At some point, most people can no longer live as independently as they could in the past.  And, caregivers are often juggling multiple responsibilities including a job and their own family issues.  Caregiving, while a very noble cause, can be arduous and extremely stressful.  Caregiver burnout is a reality too many caregivers realize only after their own physical, mental and emotional health has been compromised because they have given every possible available moment of their life to caring for their loved one.

That’s why a “village” is important.  Consider the fact that a caregiver is limited to their own resources and they may be unwittingly depriving their loved one a higher quality of life because they are trying to do everything themselves.  Thankfully, there are many services within most communities that offer assistance to seniors in need of help.  The State of Michigan Legislature has created a document, entitled Services for Seniors – Laws and Programs for Senior Adults, in which they outline the various services available to older adults within the state.  You can easily obtain a copy of this document online at Services for Seniors.

Yet, with all these resources available, many still do not seek help.  Why is that?  The following may be a few reasons:

Not knowing where to start – The task can feel so overwhelming, a caregiver may not know where to begin.  One great resource that is only a phone call away is 211.  By dialing 211 you can get connected to a variety of resources that may help you begin your journey for assistance.

A feeling of obligation that is accompanied by guilt – It is very common for a spouse or adult child to feel as though they have an obligation to “do it all.” And guilt seems to be the unwelcome companion to obligation.  While there is a healthy side of “living up to your responsibility,” there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking assistance from other family members or outside sources who have been properly vetted.  In fact, it is probably necessary for your own wellbeing.

An unhealthy sense of competition – A touch of sibling rivalry is not uncommon in families.  Adult children who are caring for their parents may still be trying to earn the place in their hearts (or within the family) as the one who did the most.  That may cause someone to “go it alone.” Don’t allow this to prevent your aging loved one from getting the quality care they deserve.

A lack of trust – We’ve all heard horror stories and some may even have first-hand experience with a caregiving event that went terribly bad.  A caregiver’s desire to protect their family member is important, that’s why utilizing only highly reputable services is crucial.

Financial concerns – Many families feel they wouldn’t be able to afford any service that may be available.  Our current medical care system is usually equated with unaffordable services.  But that is not always the case.  There may be services available that will not cost you anything or that are very affordable.

If you find yourself in need of a support system as you care for an aging family member, Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. may be your answer.    With over ten years of service in the region, the quality of care delivered to our participants is second to none.  Delivering all needed medical and supportive services, a PACE program provides the entire continuum of care and services to seniors with chronic care needs so they can maintain their independence in their home for as long as possible.

To find out how Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. can be part of your support system, please call (269) 441-9319.

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