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Putri Juneita Johari

THERE are many services now available to help you care for your loved ones.

A lot of companies and agencies have sprouted in the last few years in acknowledgement of the dire need for caregivers to help care for our ageing loved ones.

Getting such assistance isn’t about abdicating your responsibilities in caring for a loved one. It’s purely about getting assistance. When you’ve been a caregiver, especially for months or years on end, you do welcome assistance from a trusted person so that you can take time off to reconnect with yourself.

Previously, caregiving had always been thought of in terms of a family caring for their loved ones. Hiring a maid or a private nurse to care for your ailing or incapacitated loved one at home the way he was cared for in a hospital was a luxury few could afford.

There are so many of us caught in the Sandwich Generation where we have to care for our children as well as our elderly parents. It’s a struggle as the dynamics of the family structures change.

I remember how it was during my late mother’s time when they had to look after their ailing elderly family members. They had great support as relatives would step in, which meant that the burden was shared and the load, lightened. It was their way of life then.

That’s not so easy for our generation because the family unit has become smaller and more distant. Everyone has a job. In most households, both husband and wife are working. Relatives have their own lives and set of problems.

People started needing assistance for constant care. Some are not able to cope with the stress and end up sending their elderly loved ones to a nursing care facility. We’ve read horror stories in the newspapers about people abandoning them at highway rest stops, hospitals and even shopping malls.

The need for private nursing and caregivers has indeed grown. At some point in anyone’s chat these days, the question of getting either a maid for your growing family or one who’s willing to help you in caregiving in various capacities would arise.

With the Internet at our fingertips, you’ll find many services available. Because there’s competition, agencies up their game by providing professional caregivers who’ve been trained for the job.

OPTIONS TO CHECK OUT

When you hire them and get into a routine of working with a trusted team of caregivers, you can breathe easier and have more options on how to arrange your time.

Let’s start from the first scenario — when your loved one is admitted to the hospital. If it’s going to be a long stay, there’s such a service called hospital sitter who’d be there should your loved one need extra assistance that the nurses might not cover.

When your loved one returns home, he may need the kind of care that you’ll not be able to manage alone. You may not be trained in nursing care like tube insertion and feeding, tracheotomy care and intravenous line setup.

If your loved one is bedridden, you need to learn to move him to change positions to prevent bedsores. This is one of the most painful things that could happen, especially if the wound festers and grows.

Some agencies now offer hospital escort and even travel escort. Essentially, they take your loved one for his hospital appointment.

On some days, this appointment can take the whole day when you have to go from one specialist to another for the different tests.

As for travel escort, they can accompany or send your loved one to a destination anywhere in the world.

It’s a door-to-door service that isn’t a holiday for them because they take the next flight home after sending your loved ones to safe hands.

Many of the things we need to do in caregiving can be learnt, like wound dressing, cleaning and dressing someone who’s bedridden, maintaining a colostomy or stoma bag as well as checking vital signs like taking and noting blood pressure, blood sugar level, temperature and pulse rate. There’s equipment for all these things.

You can also learn to do all the stretches and exercises needed to keep the circulation going.

However, you may still need a trained physiotherapist to manipulate certain movements to maintain flexibility and strength.

Suffice to say, having done this for the last 30 years; I’ve learnt a lot. It has been a hands-on journey involving hours of care and patience, not just for one person but also for the few loved ones in my life.

There were days when you just wanted someone to take over, even if it were just for a few hours so that you can have your “me time”. This isn’t being selfish. This is about caring for yourself too.

Putri Juneita Johari volunteers for the Special Children Society of Ampang. She can be reached at [email protected].

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