Support For The Caregiver
As with most roles in life, there are both positive and negative aspects to being a caregiver to an older adult. Caregivers struggle to balance the personal, physical, and emotional aspects of caregiving, as well as their other roles and responsibilities. It is not surprising that many feel overwhelmed and stressed. This phenomenon is generally referred to as caregiver burden. Social workers play a key role in monitoring for signs of caregiver burden and helping families learn to cope with and prevent increased stress levels. It is important for social workers to maintain regular contact with the caregiver in order to assess for increased stress levels. Administrating surveys or questionnaires that are designed to measure caregiver burden can be helpful in this regard. Though assessment skills are clearly important, another necessary skill is being a good listener. Being able to discuss concerns with someone who is genuinely concerned and willing to listen can be therapeutic in and of itself. Caregivers report that talking to others who are going through similar experiences can also be helpful. Therefore, social workers often connect caregivers with support groups. Work with caregivers and review of the literature on caregiving, make it evident that one of the most important ways to support caregivers is to ensure that they have adequate time away from their caregiving roles. This supplemental care is often referred to as respite care. Social workers work with the caregivers to ensure that adequate respite care is in place through either formal or informal systems.
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