Skilled Nursing Care vs Nursing Homes: What’s Different?

A large chunk of our population, about 1.7 million people, live in nursing facilities throughout the country. There are about 15,000 nursing facilities, and they do not all provide the same type of care. The type of care provided varies depending on the estimated length of stay and the care needs of the patient. There are two levels of care in nursing facilities: Skilled nursing and nursing home care. You may be searching for the right type of care for yourself or a loved one. We would like to go over in detail these two kinds of care options and highlight the differences so you can choose the right one for you.

What is Skilled Nursing Care?

Skilled nursing care is a type of care that can only be performed by licensed nurses or therapists. It is often necessary after a hospitalization or surgery. The patient requires more rehabilitation and medical care before they can return to normal life. An example of a patient who needs skilled care would include someone who suffered a fall and in need of short-term physical therapy and wound care. Confusion often comes with the term “skilled nursing,” as it is often used synonymously with the word “nursing home.” However, skilled nursing is a type of service or care, rather than a facility. Short-term skilled nursing services through home health care can even be provided in a senior’s private home if prescribed by a doctor. The “where” has nothing to do with it. Are you looking for a skilled nurse to help you recover at home from an injury? Post a job with us!

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility, or SNF, is a transitional facility often considered a short-term stop between the hospital and home. SNFs specialize in post-acute care. This means care provided after an emergency hospital stay. SNFs provide in-patient rehabilitation and medical treatment. Due to the high level of care needed for these patients, a highly trained staff is needed. Skilled nursing staff includes: 

  • Registered Nurses (RNs)
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) 
  • Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs)
  • Speech therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Audiologists
  • Medical directors 

Many of these skilled nursing staff positions are not available at nursing homes. Round-the-clock medical assistance is available at SNFs. Senior care, ADLs (personal care activities of daily living: eating, bathing, getting dressed, toileting, transferring, and continence), meal preparation, and non-medical assistance are all included, just like in a nursing home. However, unlike nursing homes, SNF care is temporary and focused on a specific goal of the patient’s recovery. 

Facilities that provide skilled nursing care are inspected often and must follow a strict set of guidelines outlined by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS. These facilities are also regulated by their states and the U.S. Department of Health. Here is a list of facilities where you can find skilled nursing care: 

  • Hospitals
  • Assisted living, or senior living communities
  • Life Plan communities
  • Nursing homes
  • Other certified locations

During the Covid-19 pandemic, some may be able to renew their SNF coverage without having to first start a new benefit period. If you are not able to be in your home or are affected during the time of coronavirus, you can get SNF care without a qualifying hospital stay.

A nursing home is also a skilled nursing facility.

What is a Nursing Home?

A nursing home is the physical building used to house residents who receive assisted living or skilled nursing care. These long-term care facilities provide eldercare and are an alternative to live-in care. Patients in a nursing home need indefinite custodial care 24/7. A nursing home would most likely be an ideal place for an Alzheimer’s patient or similar irreversible medical condition.  

A stay in a nursing home is considered more long-term or permanent and is often not covered by Medicare. In a long-term nursing home, the care received is known as non-medical custodial. This means a non-medical worker is providing custodial care. However, if the nursing home is also a skilled nursing facility and the patient qualifies, Medicare will contribute to the patient’s care for up to 100 days. This is uncommon. Most people pay for nursing homes out of pocket, or with insurance until they hopefully become eligible for Medicaid. Medicare will not cover the majority of nursing home expenses. But in some cases, it will cover health care expenses, medical supplies, and some standard hospital services. 

Nursing homes are subject to state surveys to ensure they are complying with rules and regulations, as well as ensuring there are no threats to resident’s safety. If there are any violations, the nursing homes’ administration must fix the violations. The CMS also holds eligible nursing homes accountable to their guidelines. 

Medicare Coverage

Medicare covers many skilled nursing facilities stays, but only for a limited time. When first entering a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility, the patient’s overall health is determined. The patient will undergo examinations for physical and mental health. They will be assessed of their medications, their ability to perform ADLs, and their ability to speak and make decisions. If the patient needing post-hospital care is enrolled in Medicare and meets their requirements, they will be allowed to stay at the facility for up to 100 days. Here is the breakdown of how much Medicare will pay:

  • Day 1-20: $0/day
  • Day 21-100: $167.50/day to be covered by patient or their insurance
  • Day 101-indefinite future: all costs to be covered by patient or their insurance

After admission to the facility, patients will be required to undergo further exams throughout their stay. Unlike some assisted living facilities, SNFs cannot charge a buy-in fee. The SNF is required to draw up the fees in writing beforehand, and provide the figures to the patient or their caregiver. And they can be quite expensive, especially for long-term stays. Here is a list of skilled nursing care services that are covered by Medicare:

  • Semi-private room
  • Meals
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Medical social services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Medications
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Medical supplies and equipment used

Medicaid

If a patient doesn’t meet the requirements for Medicare or have reached their limit, Medicaid sometimes steps in to pay. For example, if a patient ends up at a nursing home that is also a skilled nursing care facility and uses up their Medicare limit, they do not have to change to another care facility. Medicaid will step in as long as the facility is also Medicaid-certified and the patient is eligible. If the facility is not Medicaid-certified, the patient will have to switch to a facility that is. For Medicaid to pitch in, it must be verified that the long-term care of the patient is “medically necessary.” The patient must also prove that their assets and income fall below a certain level. 

So, we’ve given you a detailed overview of both skilled nursing care and nursing homes and their possible payment options. We hope that you have determined the appropriate care option for you. To aid in your quest for the right care facility, we have provided two separate lists of questions to ask when visiting either your potential SNF or potential nursing home:

Helpful Questions In the Quest for the Right Skilled Nursing Care Facility

SNF Basic Information 

  • Is the SNF Medicare-certified?
  • Is the SNF Medicaid-certified?
  • Does the SNF provide the care you need and have a bed available?
  • Does the SNF provide special services if needed in a separate unit (for dementia, ventilator, or rehab), and have a bed available?
  • Is the SNF close enough for friends and family to visit?

SNF Appearance of Residents

  • Are the current residents clean, groomed, and are dressed appropriately for the current season or time of day?

SNF Living Spaces

  • Is the SNF free of unpleasant odors?
  • Does the SNF appear clean and well-kept?
  • Is the temperature in the SNF comfortable for residents?
  • Does the SNF have good lighting?
  • Are noise levels in common areas comfortable?
  • Is smoking prohibited or restricted to certain areas?
  • Are furnishings sturdy, comfortable, and attractive?

SNF Staff

  • Does the relationship between staff and residents appear to be warm, polite, and respectful?
  • Do staff wear name tags?
  • Does the staff knock on the door before entering a resident’s room and refer to them by name?
  • Does the SNF offer training and continuing education for the staff?
  • Does the guide on your tour know the residents by name and is recognized by them?
  • Is there a full-time Registered Nurse (RN) on staff at all times, other than the Administrator of Director of Nursing?
  • Does the same team of nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) work with the same resident 4 to 5 times a week?
  • Do the CNAs work with a reasonable amount of residents?
  • Are CNAs involved in care planning meetings?
  • Is there a full-time social worker on staff?
  • Is there a licensed doctor on staff who is there daily? Can he or she be reached at all times?
  • Has the SNF management team worked together for at least a year?

SNF Residents’ Rooms

  • Do residents have personal belongings and furniture in their rooms?
  • Does each resident have personal storage space in their rooms?
  • Does each resident have a window in their room?
  • Do the residents have access to a personal phone and television?
  • Do residents have their own choice in roommates?
  • Can water pitchers be reached by residents?
  • Are their policies and procedures to protect residents’ possessions?

SNF Hallways, Stairs, Lounges, and Bathrooms

  • Are exits clearly marked?
  • Are there quiet areas where residents can visit with friends and family?
  • Does the SNF have smoke detectors and sprinklers?
  • Are all common areas, rooms, and doorways designed for wheelchair use?
  • Are there handrails in the hallways and grab bars in the bathroom?

SNF Menus and Food

  • Do residents have a choice of food items at each meal?
  • Are nutritious snacks available?
  • Are staff available to help residents eat and drink if needed?

SNF Activities

  • Are all residents able to take part in a variety of activities?
  • Does the SNF have an outdoor area and is staff available to help residents go outside?
  • Does the SNF have an active volunteer program?

SNF Safety and Care

  • Does the SNF have an emergency evacuation plan and hold regular fire drills?
  • Do residents get preventative care, like flu shots?
  • Can residents still see their regular doctors?
  • Does the SNF have an arrangement with a local hospital for emergencies?
  • Are care plan meetings held at convenient times with residents and family members?
  • Has the SNF corrected all the deficiencies in its last state inspection report? 
At the end of the day, a good nurse is always there to help you with your health needs.

Helpful Questions In the Quest for the Right Nursing Home

Nursing Home Basic Information:

  • Is the nursing home Medicare-certified?
  • Is the nursing home Medicaid-certified?
  • Are the nursing home and current administrator licensed in my state?
  • Does the nursing home have beds available?
  • Does the nursing home offer specialized services, like for dementia or ventilator care?
  • Is the nursing home close enough for family and friends to visit?
  • Are there resident policies that must be followed? What are they?
  • Are there extra charges for special services, like beauty shop services?
  • Will the nursing home provide a fee schedule clearing noting what services are part of the monthly fee, and what is extra?

Nursing Home Safety and Care

  • Have you checked the nursing home’s rating on Medicare.gov?
  • Does the nursing home take action to improve quality or staffing when needed?
  • Can residents still see their doctors? If so, will the nursing home help with arranging transportation for them to do so?
  • Does the nursing home have an arrangement with a nearby hospital?
  • Are care plan meetings held at convenient times for residents and family members?
  • Does the nursing home’s state or federal inspection report indicate any quality of care problems or citations?
  • Has the nursing home corrected all the citations from the last inspection report?

Preventing Abuse in Nursing Home 

  • Does the relationship between the staff and residents appear warm, friendly, and respectful?
  • Does the nursing home check potential staff in the state nurse aid registry to make sure they do not have a history of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of residents? 
  • Does the nursing home have policies and procedures on prohibiting and reporting abuse and neglect?
  • Is the nursing home taking action to keep residents safe from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation? 
  • Is there information about how to report concerns about the care and safety of residents? 
  • Is there information about how the facility responds to concerns that are reported? 
  • Has the nursing home been cited for issues related to abuse in the last year or two?

Nursing Home Appearance

  • Are residents clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed for the season or time of day? 
  • Is the nursing home free from overwhelming unpleasant odors? 
  • Does the nursing home appear clean and well kept? 
  • Is the temperature in the nursing home comfortable for residents? 
  • Does the nursing home have good lighting? 
  • Are the noise levels in the dining room and other common areas comfortable?

Nursing Home Living Spaces

  • Is the furniture sturdy, comfortable, and attractive?
  • Are exits clearly marked? 
  • Are there quiet areas where the residents can visit their friends and family?
  • Does the nursing home have smoke detectors and sprinklers? 
  • Are all common areas, resident rooms, and doorways designed for wheelchairs? 
  • Are handrails and grab bars appropriately placed in the hallways and bathrooms?

Nursing Home Menus and Food

  • Do the residents have different choices at their meals?
  • Can the nursing home accommodate special dietary needs?
  • Are nutritious snacks available?
  • Is staff available to help assist residents in eating and drinking during meals?

Nursing Home Staff

  • Does the staff member knock on a resident’s door before entering?
  • Do staff members refer to residents by name?
  • Does the nursing home offer their staff additional training and continuing education?
  • Is there a licensed nursing staff 24 hours a day, including a Registered Nurse (RN) present at least 8 hours per day, 7 days a week? 
  • Do Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) help plan the care of residents?
  • How many nurses, including CNAs, will be available during the day, at night, and on weekends? 
  • Is there a staff member assigned to meet residents’ social service needs?
  • Will the staff call the resident’s doctor if there is a medical need?
  • Has there been a turnover in the past year of administrative staff?
  • Is the primary language of the resident spoken by the staff?

Nursing Home Residents’ Rooms

  • Can residents have personal belongings and furniture in their rooms?
  • Does each resident have personal storage space in their rooms?
  • Does each resident have a window in their room?
  • Do the residents have access to a personal phone, computer, and television?
  • Do residents have their own choice in roommates?
  • Are their policies and procedures to protect residents’ possessions?

Nursing Home Activities

  • Do residents have their choice in taking part in various activities, including residents confined to their room?
  • Do residents help plan and choose the activities available?
  • Does the nursing home have outdoor areas for resident use? 
  • Is staff available to help residents go outside? 
  • Does the nursing home have an active volunteer program? 
  • Do residents get to choose what time to get up, go to sleep, or bathe? 
  • Can residents have visitors at any time – even in early or late hours? 
  • Are residents able to leave the facility for a few hours or days? 
  • Are there procedures for leaving? 
  • Does the nursing home offer religious or cultural support? 
  • If not, what type of arrangements will they provide to meet those needs?

Caring for Residents with Dementia in Nursing Home 

  • Does the nursing home have specific policies and procedures related to the care of residents with dementia? 
  • If so, does the policy include the use of non-medication based approaches to care as a first attempt to respond to behavioral symptoms (which are often a means of communication) for residents living with dementia? 
  • What percentage of residents who have a diagnosis of dementia are currently being prescribed an antipsychotic medication? 
  • What’s the nursing home’s current rate of the antipsychotic medication use?
  • Does the nursing home participate in any efforts related to reducing antipsychotic medication use in nursing homes (like the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care)?

Taking Care of You: A Guide to Self-Care

Caregiving for older adults can be a very rewarding experience. But the fact is, caring for others with diseases such as Alzheimer’s takes a toll on your health and well-being. It is a full-time job. The energy you normally spend on yourself is being redirected to a loved one or care patient. The stress of caregiving weakens your immune system. Your brain is in a fog. You are rushing from medical appointments to then spending countless hours by their bedside. The more duties you take on, the more your own mental and physical health begin to deteriorate. Caregivers are highly susceptible to health issues such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and chronic digestive problems. We want to ensure that you avoid ending up in a hospital bed. Therefore it is imperative that you be aware of the negative effects caregiving may be having on you, and self-care tips to prevent them.

Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout happens when you are overwhelmed by chronic stress. You may have taken on more caregiving responsibilities than you can handle, or simply don’t have the help you need. You are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted with the feeling of having little to no control. When exposed to the stress of eldercare over a long time, stress hormones are released in the body at a high level. To manage this high stress, it is first helpful to recognize the symptoms early before they become much worse. Here are some warning signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout: 

  • You are isolating yourself socially.
  • You have low energy.
  • You neglect your own needs. 
  • You cannot relax, even when you have help.
  • Your life revolves around caregiving.
  • You have lost interest in activities you previously enjoyed.
  • You feel sad, irritable, hopeless, or helpless.
  • You have become negative and unconcerned.
  • Your appetite has changed.
  • Your weight has changed.
  • Your sleeping patterns have changed.
  • Your immune system has weakened.
  • You are in digestive distress.
  • You are getting headaches.
  • You have unexplainable pains.
  • You have the urge to hurt yourself or the person you are caring for.
  • You are emotionally and physically exhausted.
Being able to check your blood pressure is a great way of practicing self-care.

Managing Stress 

Once you’ve noticed the effects of caregiver stress and burnout, you must identify what is causing the stress. Think deeply about where the real issue is. Sometimes the first thought that comes to mind is not always the right one. You might think something like “I’m tired all the time because I am doing this alone. No one wants to help me.” But perhaps the issue is deeper than that. Are you afraid to ask for help? Are you trying to do too much? Are you feeling inadequate? Are you finding that you cannot say no even though you want to? 

After you’ve identified the issue and where it is coming from, ask yourself if it is something in your control to change. A lot of our suffering arises when we are fearing something happening that we cannot control. We are holding onto the idea that if we just put in a little more effort in, it will make a difference. However, your care receiver’s condition may be terminal. When we are unable to make the difference we want to, we get frustrated. The reality is that unfortunately there is nothing you or anyone else can do to change what will inevitably happen. You must accept things the way they are, and do what you can from there. Remember that you cannot control other people or situations. The only thing you can change is yourself and how you react to the situation. 

If the problem is something that is in your control to change, make a list of possible solutions. Be open-minded to all possibilities and jot them down. Look at the problem from all angles and perspectives. Once your list is compiled, choose one solution and try it. Then evaluate if it helped solve the problem. If it didn’t, go on to the next possible solution. Keep trying until you have tried every solution on the list! 

Another thing you can control is your ability to reduce your stress. There are easy things you can do that you have control over. For example, you could go for a walk or talk to a friend. But one of the most important things to help reduce stress and improve self-care is in your mindset. 

Remove Limiting Beliefs of Caregiver Self-Care 

You must identify harmful thought patterns that are getting in the way of your self-care. These thought patterns turn into limiting beliefs and misconceptions which end up causing you to overwork yourself. Thus, your health and the health of your care recipient suffer due to your misconceptions. If you change the way you see things, the things you see change. We will now outline some of the limiting beliefs that prevent you from taking care of yourself and why they may be erroneous:

  • The belief that you are selfish when you put your needs first: You have to realize that taking care of your own needs first is the fundamental and essential step to taking care of others. You cannot be a good support system if you are drained yourself. There are a couple of analogies that wonderfully demonstrate this point. One is, “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” Another is, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” When you are pouring into your cup first, you are ensuring you have something to pour into another’s cup. If you are pouring into another’s cup first, your cup is depleted. You have nothing left to pour. Fill your cup up first. 
  • The belief that you are inadequate if you ask for help: On the contrary, it is a brave thing to ask for help. It is the sign of a self-aware and intelligent person when they have realized they have reached their limit. And absolutely everyone has limits. We all get tired, hungry, and lacking social connection. We are all human. There is only so much one person can give.  
  • The belief that you have to prove you are worthy of their affection: You might say to yourself, “If I do it right, I will get the love, attention, and respect that I deserve.” Then you may do too much as a result. You may overwork yourself and not get the validation you expect. Simply give what is comfortable for you and what is within your ability. Try not to do it to gain anything other than your satisfaction and peace of mind. When we do anything with an expectation, we will almost always be disappointed. 
  • The belief that you and only you are responsible for their health problems: Leaning on a support system is necessary. Someone else’s health is way too much responsibility for one person. There are so many contributing people and factors that influence someone’s health. There are health care professionals, other family members, and friends who also contribute. Do not look past the efforts of others. And remember illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease will take its course regardless of how much effort you put into it. You cannot control everything.
  • The belief that no one will help if you don’t: The question is, do you know that for a fact? Have you tried asking? You might be surprised who will show up to help when you need it. You just have to be open to it. There are so many good people out there that want to ease the suffering of others. Also, consider the possibility of posting a job for live-in care and respite care. Finding a professional caregiver with the right knowledge and skill-set can drastically improves your loved one’s quality of life. No one was meant to do it all alone.
  • Another huge barrier to self-care and your emotional health is negative self-talk. Negative self-talk can become a compulsive habit if left unchecked. Although realistically analyzing your faults can be helpful for your growth, it is not helpful to dwell on the negative aspects. Giving your self-critic free reign over your thoughts ravages your mental health. It just creates another obstacle to effective change. Try to identify trigger moments of your negative self-talk. Write them down. Counteract each negative statement with a positive one. If you made a mistake, just accept it and then think about what you might do differently next time. You have to accept that you are doing your best with what you got. One of the best ways to counteract negative self-talk is through self-compassion.

Self-Compassion 

Right alongside managing your stress and removing limiting beliefs, self-compassion is another essential brick in the foundation of self-care for caregivers. The main principle of self-compassion is to be kind to yourself. Give yourself credit. What you are doing is not easy on any level and you deserve some self-recognition. Identifying what you have done right helps prevent the ugly self-critic from rearing its ugly head. Here are a few other things you can do to practice self-compassion:

  • Allow yourself to laugh about something.
  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Surround yourself with positive things. 
  • Turn off the violent film, or news on TV.
  • Turn on soothing music that calms you. 
  • Set a small goal for yourself.
  • Take a break, even for just 5 minutes. 
  • Give yourself a treat at least once a month.

Breath Awareness & Relaxation

In the rush of taking care of someone else, we often jump from one task to the next with no time in between. We are disconnected from the present moment as we plan our days out in our heads. Our heart rate quickens and our breaths become shallow as we focus on the next task. We are tense and nervous. In this state, we are much more likely to make critical mistakes. It is imperative to slow your breathing down. When your breathing slows down, it sends a message to your brain to relax. Your thoughts will be less jumbled, and you can think clearer. Try this belly breathing exercise to help relax at any stressful moment:

  1. Sit or lie flat comfortably. 
  2. Put one hand on top of your belly, and the other on your chest. 
  3. As you breathe in through your nose, let your belly push your hand out. Your chest shouldn’t move. 
  4. Breathe out. You will be blowing the air out through your mouth as the hand on your belly will help push the air out. 
  5. Repeat 3 to 10 times. 
  6. Notice how relaxed you are afterward. 

Mind & Body Practices

Aside from practicing deep breathing relaxation, many other mind-body techniques combat stress. Meditation, mindful movement, and nature walks are among the most effective. Meditation helps you lower your blood pressure, stress, and risk of heart disease. It helps you bring a quality of mindfulness to your life. You will find yourself alert and aware of what is going on around you, and how it is affecting your thought patterns. Mindful movement such as Qigong and yoga also help cultivate more awareness. Among other benefits, Qigong can bring us out of the freeze, flight, or fight automatic responses by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Also incorporating sun, greenery, and fresh air is another easy way to reduce stress. Go on a nature walk. Research suggests that walking in nature can reduce depression. These important practices will energize you, making you less prone to stress buildup. 

Exercising is essential to taking care of your body and mental health.

Exercise, Sleep, and a Healthy Diet 

Take care of yourself physically. This means incorporating some kind of exercise into your day. It can mean something as simple as a walk to the store, rather than by car. Regular exercise will help maintain your stamina, balance, flexibility, and strength. These are all helpful abilities when caring for another, not to mention you just feel better. Another way to keep yourself fit is by eating healthy. Try to eat a well-balanced diet as best as you can. Because being chronically stressed leads to inflammation in the body, it is important to avoid foods that cause more inflammation. These include processed foods, refined sugars, and alcohol. It is also helpful to reduce caffeine if possible, as it raises cortisol levels. Caffeine and alcohol consumption also affect your sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation will impair your brain function. Getting a good night’s rest is incredibly important for you to be relaxed and clear-minded.   

Asking For Help 

You cannot do it all alone. To reach out for help, you have to be able to communicate effectively. You must be able to help others understand your wants and needs. Here are some tips for communicating effectively:

  • First, take a deep breath. This will help center and calm your thoughts.
  • Body language.
  • Respect that everyone has a right to make their own choices. They are allowed to feel the way they feel. Do not bring your own emotions into it. Often we are emotional when people are not living up to our expectations of them. This anger and frustration can just make successful communication more difficult.  
  • Keep clear about what you are trying to communicate. Set an intention before the conversation of what you would like to get across. If you pile on numerous tiny issues, it will exhaust the listener. Know what is important to communicate, and what to keep silent about. 
  • Try to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements when communicating what you feel and need. When you use “you” statements, you are automatically putting the other person on the defensive. It sounds very demanding. The best way to express how you are feeling and what you need is the following:  “I feel ______ because I need ______.” Hearing this, the other person will be more likely to genuinely want to help.
  • Even though the situation is difficult, do not pass up the opportunity to smile and laugh with the person you are communicating with. Life does not stop because a loved one is sick. You have to be able to continue to find joy in every minute you can. Any small boost in mood will go a long way in the rest of your difficult conversation.
  • Listen. Messages can be easily misunderstood if you are not truly paying attention to what they are saying. Miscommunication can lead to frustration and a communication breakdown. The best way to communicate is to first be a good listener. It ensures mutual respect and striving for common goals.  

Asking for and accepting help is one of the challenges many people have when caregiving. Accept that you don’t have it all together. It is ok to not be ok. You have reached the limits of what is humanly possible. Do not see asking for help as a weakness. See it as an opportunity to connect with another human being. We are hardwired for connection with others. And it is a normal and natural thing for us to work together. Here are some tips for getting help:

  • Allow others the chance to help. Give family and friends printed material on your loved one’s illness. In this way, they can better understand the situation. You might be surprised who shows up.
  • Do not keep asking the same person to help you. They might be having difficulty saying no and can become exhausted without you knowing it. Your relationship with them might even suffer. Spread the tasks amongst various people to prevent anyone from getting burned out.
  • Consider the right person for the right task. You do not need your friend to come from across town to pick up the paper when you can easily ask your neighbor.
  • Convey just how important the task is, so the person can evaluate whether they would like to help. If something you want help with is important to you, make sure they know it. If you make it sound like it is not a big deal, they may not think it is worth their time.
  • If the person agrees to help, show your appreciation. Say thank you. If it is appropriate, find a way to celebrate or reward their help. 

You may think you can do it all alone, but someone must also be caring for the caregiver.  Reach out to family and friends to maintain a support network. If you feel like your support system is inadequate, review resources such as the Family Caregiver Alliance. There are also caregiver support groups you can find at hospitals or local organizations. If you are extremely overwhelmed, try a counselor or therapist. Try to talk with someone every day, even if only through social media. Remember that you are not in this alone.