The pressures of providing care and tips for managing caregiver stress were the featured topics on the most recent episode of Aging Well, a monthly production of Somerville Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).
The discussion was led by SCES social workers Nina Cohen and Carolyn Nagao-Marcotte, who have both worked extensively to support caregivers through agency programs. They said stress is common when providing care, but also cautioned that unchecked it can lead to caregiver burnout, which is often marked by irritability, decreased patience, and feeling at wits end.
Nagao-Marcotte said caregivers at risk for burnout often take on too much.
“I think it’s important to recognize your own limitations and have realistic expectations about how much time and energy it’s going to require to care for somebody, and to not be afraid to ask for help if you need it,” said Nagao-Marcotte.
Cohen added that it’s crucial that caregivers make some time for themselves.
“I think good self-care is really important when you’re a caregiver—taking time to take care of yourself, away from the person your caring for,” said Cohen. “This can be difficult, so we often encourage people to enroll the person they’re caring for in a day program, so they can have time away from each other.”
The guests also discussed how their respective programs assist caregivers.
Cohen is the social work manager for Adult Family Care (AFC), which provides compensation, training, and respite for live-in caregivers. The program is provided at no cost to eligible households, and Cohen said the idea is providing knowledge and support to help caregivers succeed.
“Basically we’re providing the tools that caregivers need to be successful,” said Cohen.
Nagao-Marcotte is an Aging Life Care Manager with the Community Living Options (CLO) program, which provides private case management without eligibility requirements. She said caregivers typically contact CLO during care transitions, when it becomes clear that more help is needed.
Aging Well is produced in partnership with the Somerville Media Center and airs on SCATV Channel 3 at the following times: Sundays at 10am, Mondays at 7:30am and Tuesdays at 1pm.
Episodes are also available through the SCES YouTube channel.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.