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Caregiver Burnout and the Passover Lesson

In over forty years experience in the field of Senior’s Healthcare, family and friends have often consulted me as a resource and have asked me, “When our parent/loved one needs more care, what should we do?” For the same forty years, my answer has been, “If you can afford it, the best solution is to keep them in the home environment with around-the-clock help” – that is, until now. Recently during intake and assessments at One Kenton Place, I have encountered families suffering from caregiver “burnout”. Notwithstanding that they already have help 24/7, the parent/loved one’s condition and quality of life continues to deteriorate. A dilemma that needs some thought.

With Passover thoughts in mind, it seemed to me the demands and challenges of being the primary caregiver/decision-maker for someone with complex needs is a burden that can be likened to bondage. The Passover story deals with the freedom from bondage and hopefully there is a lesson to be learned from the Pesach experience. The Passover meal is so different from other holiday meals spent with family and to quote “Why is this night different than any other night?” The answer is “SEDER” or ORDER. Following a routine of prescribed steps ensures the delivery of the proper Passover experience for participants of all ages.

So too, for the primary caregiver, ORDER or disciplined and monitored routines need to be in place in order to orchestrate, augment and enrich what the hands-on-caregivers do for your loved one. That includes balanced and planned meals, exercise, music (either listening and/or singing) mental games, conversation and storytelling, shopping, looking at family photos, hobbies, current events, even some TV shows, and really anything that engages and stimulates the individual being cared for. Some families are even hiring outside professionals to assist them with specialized services like these and safety proofing the home. The ORDER within the daily programming can lessen the burden and stem some of the depressive side effects of isolation. What results is not necessarily freedom from bondage but rewards from a labour of love.

Manny Simon                                                                                                                                                                                                          President Eldercare Equities Inc.