Caregivers Need Care Too

Caregivers don’t get nearly enough credit for the work they do. They handle household chores, prepare meals, manage medications, wash, clean and entertain patients, speak to doctors and nurses on behalf of those that they care for and communicate the results to other family members. Caregivers may take on so many responsibilities that people become dependent on them for normal activities of daily living. In our rapidly aging society, the need for caregivers is rising exponentially. Caregivers become indispensable. They become overwhelmed. Caregivers need care too.

The pressure on caregivers to provide reliable, consistent, persistent care is growing. Most caregivers are family members that give up work and their own daily activities to care for the lives of another. The sacrifice is enormous, but they need help too! It’s not easy for a caregiver to simply take a day off and that applies equally to a family member or professional caregiver.

If someone relies entirely on their caregiver, what are they to do if said caregiver fails to show up to their home one day. Would they be able to manage if their caregiver slept in one morning, forgot to show up or got into an accident? Many would, but that isn’t necessarily the case for everyone.

Currently, home care companies often have a system in place that allows them to be notified if one of their caregivers fails to arrive where they need to be on time, but it’s unlikely that there will be any kind of safety measures in place if someone’s caregiver is a friend or family member. It’s just assumed that they’ll be where they need to be when they need to be there, but things don’t always work out that way. Because of this, steps should be taken to ensure that someone in need of care isn’t left to fend for themselves if their caregiver fails to show up.

Any new caregiver must learn the patient’s medication regiment and daily activity profile quickly. This adds stress not only to the caregiver, but to the cared one as well.

Caregiver Stress

Caregiver stress is due to the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Caregivers report much higher levels of stress than people who are not caregivers. Some caregivers may feel overwhelmed by the amount of care their aging, sick or disabled family member needs. Many feel an increased financial burden as caring for a loved one can be quite costly. Imagine the stress associated with medication non-adherence. Just one missed dose, incorrect dose or extra dose could have serious effects on their loved one.

Caregivers should recognize these signs of caregiver stress[1]:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

“Some of the ways stress affects caregivers include depression and anxiety (which also raise your risk for other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke), weak immune system, obesity, higher risk for chronic diseases and even problems with short-term memory or paying attention.”

Helping Caregivers, Just Start Somewhere

The dynamics of activities in which caregivers may undergo increased stress are fluid and vast. Attempting to solve all problems at once is not only overwhelming, it is impossible. So, let’s select one issue, and follow through with a solution. A solution which provides relief to both patient and caregiver.

Technology can be a godsend. An individual’s Circle of Care can now connect in real-time to provide monitoring and support for seniors and the chronically ill. Quality of life is instantly increased and everyone in the Circle of Care has accurate and valid information on which they can make life and health decisions for the benefit of the individual at the center of the circle. It is true that what was once Independent Living becomes, for most people, Inter-dependent Living.

If we explore medication adherence and the stress imposed on caregivers and seniors in compliance, it is relatively easy to derive utility from technology and the ability to remotely capture and monitor medication compliance and a host of other pertinent data in a comprehensive manner.

With up to 30% of hospital readmissions due to medication non-adherence, noting that between 20% to 80% of patients make errors in taking medication and the fact that homecare saves the government 95% of the cost for hospital care, it is easy to see how ensuring proper medication adherence can be a big help to caregivers, patients, family and health care providers.

The RxPense Helps Patients and Caregivers

While the RxPense was invented by Medipense to be the best pill dispenser for seniors, it now shows potential to become the best pill dispenser for caregivers! More features and technology to benefit patients, their caregivers, circle of care and even administrators, the RxPense provides the consistency, reliability and persistence needed to know that a patient is well cared for. Remote monitoring, telemedicine, voice biometrics and security, automated programming and loading, it notifies and follows up with patients when time to take their medications, confirms consumption and notifies caregivers when anomalies occur. It offers proof of dispensing via data and images stored securely in an audit trail, accessible via the Cloud, anywhere.

A caregiver or physician can follow-up with the patient by logging into their secure, cloud-based web portal, reading the data, making decisions, activating video or voice contact and making it easy for a senior to remain at home.

Nearly 30% of our population of 15 and over acting as caregivers to the fastest growing segment of our society, seniors. There are not enough caregivers to meet the growing demand. Caregivers need to do more, with less. Caregivers need to care for themselves too. To meet the care needs of our aging population, it is projected that the governments of Canada and the provinces will need an additional $93 Billion over the next decade and this does not include the additional support needed to help caregivers themselves.

Though increased use of the RxPense and other technologies, caregivers can monitor their patients at a distance, and find increased comfort in knowing that they can be notified and more easily communicate with their loved ones. Seniors can find comfort in knowing that caregivers are simply a button, or voice call away.

[1] Mayo Clinic Staff, Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself, Jan. 19, 2018

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