One of the most challenging, yet rewarding roles one can serve is being a caregiver. Some eagerly accept the opportunity to care for others, while some are placed in the role with no choice and may feel pressured and unprepared. Others serve in this capacity as a professional. Whatever the nature of the relationship, caregivers of all kinds provide a vast array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services on a daily or intermittent basis.

At Liberty Towers, caregivers tend to be family members, friends, nurses, social workers and professional aides. Their role as caregiver may last a few months or for the remainder of a resident’s life. During this time, there is much to learn about what responsibilities and boundaries exist. Caregivers typically need to take time to develop a relationship with a resident’s doctors and other health care professionals in order to determine what medical needs exist. Caregivers need to learn about available programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, social security, and other programs. It may mean learning about specific mobility devices, reevaluating finances, coordinating services, such as transportation, meal delivery, and more.

The list below may help determine if a resident needs a caregiver:

Financial Matters: There may be signs that bills are not being paid or are have been paid incorrectly. Checks may bounce. Residents may be overwhelmed by offers for credit, loans, etc. They may also be overwhelmed by offers for prizes, lottery winnings, etc. and send money in order to collect their winnings.

Social Matters: Residents may lose interest in leaving their apartment. They may have difficulty walking, seeing, hearing, etc. isolate themselves as a means of coping. Isolation can lead to depression, malnutrition and other health concerns. Residents may also display unusual behavior towards others, displaying a short and sharp temper. Residents may also miss appointments and other social engagements or may arrive late or on different days.

Personal Hygiene Matters: Changes in appearance are the most obvious sign that some assistance is needed. Residents may demonstrate that they have not changed their clothing in days. They may also have body odor. Their hair may be uncombed. They may also wear soiled clothing. Doing the laundry or getting in an out of the tub may be too difficult for them to do on their own.

Eating & Cooking Habits: Residents may lose interest in cooking for themselves or may be overwhelmed by it. They may not have the ability to go grocery shopping on their own and may not want to trouble anyone to ask for help. They may also have financial concerns that prevent them from having the money to afford to shop. Signs that they may not be eating properly are limited or expired food on hand, excessive weight loss or gain, health symptoms resulting from increased cholesterol, sugar, or limited vitamin intake. A good indicator that they are having difficulty cooking include scorched pots and pans, setting the fire alarm off repeatedly as a result of falling asleep while cooking or forgetting that the stove is on. Medical Matters: Residents may forget to take medication or may take too little or too much. They may also be confused about when to take them and may try to medicate themselves, often sharing medications with other residents, as oppose to visiting their doctors. Residents may demonstrate changes in sleeping patterns, sleeping too much or not enough. This may also be a sign of depression or anxiety.

Housekeeping Matters: Residents may have difficulty maintaining their apartments for a number of reasons. It may be too-physically demanding to vacuum, mop, change bed linens, remove trash, etc.. They may not recognize the need for household repairs. Being unable to clean for any length of time may result in residents being overwhelmed and unable to keep up with clutter, laundry, dishes, etc… Their inability to maintain the apartment may result in further social isolation and threats to their safety and wellbeing. Clutter, for instance, may cause a tripping or fire hazard.

Once determining that a need for help exists, caregivers need to determine what types of services are available so that the entire burden of care does not rest on the shoulders on one person. This can cause unnecessary stress. Caring for yourself while caring for others is crucial.

Visit the Sussex County Senior Services Resource Directory

Caregiver Support Resources

Family Caregiving 101
Provides caregivers with the basic tools, skills, and information to protect their own physical and mental health while providing high quality care for their loved one.

National Family Caregivers Association or
Offers information, education, support, networking, public awareness, and advocacy, to empower caregivers to act on behalf of themselves and their loved ones.

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)
Assists caregivers of the elderly with information and referrals, a network of support groups, publications and programs that promote public awareness of the value and the needs of family caregivers.

Caring from a Distance
Provides support to those taking care of an older loved one from a distance. Services include information about legal, financial, health care, and emotional issues