Many of us may be familiar with the concept of co-dependency when discussing addictions such as substance abuse.
But Accredited Home Care wants people to know that these types of unhealthy relationships can also be present in elder care situations, where there’s an unequal balance between those providing care and those receiving it.
Like with substance abuse, every situation is different and sometimes there can be a very fine line between someone truly wanting to provide care and help to someone who needs it, and feeling obligated to continue doing so to the point of resentment or not being able to take care of themselves.
Co-dependency can also be seen at the recipient end, whether someone truly appreciates the effort from a spouse, child or another caregiver, or takes it for granted or worse, is extra demanding and aggravates an already challenging situation.
Mental health experts have concluded that there are similar emotional dynamics at play as there are in addiction situations, where a spouse or family member enables a person to continue their abusive behavior. The enabler may have low self-esteem, a weak will, a high interest in being helpful, and a desire for things to stay the same.
In elder care situations, caregivers may put all their effort into being the best caregivers they can be, sometimes at the expense of their own physical, mental or emotional health.
Therapists will say that both situations can be unhealthy for both parties. The addict may not get the help they need to beat their addiction – why should they try to fix anything if they have a good situation going with someone who looks out for them?
Likewise, the person receiving the support and assistance in a care giving situation may also require more qualified help than their current caregiver is able to provide. Rather than someone pushing their current caregiver/loved one to continue going above and beyond, to the point of them becoming fatigued and resentful, the situation could be improved if a trained caregiver could come in to assist and deliver proper, skilled care.
It’s not always easy to tell if you’re in a cycle of co-dependency – sometimes it takes a mental health professional to diagnose this, rather than the opinions of concerned friends or family members.
But if you think you might be in this sort of situation, it’s OK to seek help or at least advice. Some of the fears that let these relationships continue include that the person will no longer receive quality care if their primary caregiver stops providing these services, or that they’ll have to move to a care facility.
However, home health care agencies in the Pasadena area will be able to provide quality care and no one will have to relocate. And the caregiver can have a well-deserved break.
If you’re looking for a good opportunity to break a cycle of co-dependency, the start of a new year might be the perfect time to take action – January is also National Co-Dependency Awareness Month. It’s an occasion when people are encouraged to assess their relationships and roles in other people’s addictions, care situations or other disorders.
Try caregiving, not caretaking
This is the approach recommended by a counselor in Texas, who said that much of what we think of caregiving is the other way around: insecure, controlling people who demand more than their fair share of your time and energy, and remain eager to take more. This could be in romantic relationships as well as families.
Instead, she suggests that caregivers create boundaries that can’t be crossed, no matter how demanding or controlling their client tries to be. Caregivers also need to take time for their own care to avoid burn-out and resentment.
Going into a care giving situation with a feeling of wanting to help can be inspiring and energizing, as opposed to a client simply demanding more or being verbally or physically abusive. Clients also are encouraged to play a role in this as well, such as trying to be appreciative and respectful.
Home health can help
If a caregiver knows that professional home health care services are available, even a few times a week, it might be just the thing to reduce someone’s dependence on them.
A health care agency can provide a variety of options, including respite care, which could involve someone from an agency staying with the client while the caregiver goes out for a few hours, or the client going somewhere, such as a respite care center in their community.
If a client has never received home health care and relied only on family members, he or she may find they enjoy the higher level of care available from a trained in-home caregiver.
An agency can also provide information about mental health resources in the Pasadena area. In some cases, the root of someone’s co-dependency may have been planted years prior, such as an abusive childhood.
A therapist may be able work with one person or both parties to help both communicate better and examine past patterns and help everyone more forward more respectfully.
For more information on home health care options in the Pasadena area, visit Accredited Home Care.