Senior Living Advice: Don't let excuses get in the way of caregiving


By Beth Dow, Senior Living Columnist
Making excuses. I am a master excuse maker. I think it does come naturally to some of us, especially when someone calls us out on something we could do or should do.
We can come up with a ton of reasons (i.e., excuses) for why we do what we do or don’t do what we should do.
I ran across a quote the other day. Not sure who said it. “When I lost all of my excuses, I found my results.” I have committed that to memory.
When I hear an excuse creeping up in my mind, I counter it with “When I lost all of my excuses, I found my results.”

Some of the best excuse-driven folks I know, second to the student with homework due, are caregivers. Long-term caregivers often give excuses that allow them to avoid getting help. If you have a friend or a loved one 
taking care of a family member, listen for these excuses and help them to see how their excuses are being used to justify an unrealistic goal of handling the care of their loved one all by themselves.
Excuse No. 1: “I don’t need a break.” Even God took a break on the 7th day! All of us need a break – time to recharge or rest. Caregivers are no different. Some 40 to 70% of long-term caregivers die before the person they are taking care of dies. No one can go forever.
Excuse No. 2: “It will cause more stress to get them there.” This excuse is often given when you ask a caregiver about adult day programs. It just isn’t true. It may make for a hectic morning and if transportation is not offered, that could be an extra hassle. But when weighed against the 6 to 8 hours of “caring free” time they will get in return, the stress a day program could relieve is significant.
Excuse No. 3: “I can’t afford help.” There is low cost and even free help out there. It may take some creativity and research, but it is so worth it. If your care recipient is a veteran or the spouse of a veteran, check out the Aid and Attendance Benefit. Medicaid will pay for home care. Many Adult Day programs are based on ability to pay. And never underestimate the willingness of friends or other family 
members to give a few hours of their time to give you a break. Also, contact your local Area Agency on Aging, for community programs that may offer you support.
Excuse No. 4: “No one will look after her/him like I will.” I have 24-hour care for my mom. I know without a doubt, that they provide better care for her than I could ever give her. Her care is shared by caregivers, that get a break. When they come in for a shift, they are fresh and ready for the day, not already exhausted. Remember the best care you can give a loved one, may be care that is not provided by you.
If you are a caregiver, survive this journey. Ask for help. If you are a friend or family member to a 
caregiver, don’t let them continue to make excuses. Help them to find their results that appear when excuses are lost.