Recognizing & Managing Substance Abuse in Caregivers

By Milagros Castillo, 9:00 am on

Caregivers are at risk for substance abuse due to the constant stress they experience. Substance abuse can start out as normal behavior such as having a glass of wine with dinner, but it can eventually become serious when the stress builds up. It is important to recognize the signs of substance abuse so the caregiver can get help.

Know the Risk Factors for Substance Abuse

People often abuse drugs or alcohol as a way of escaping their daily problems. For example, a caregiver may have too many drinks in the evening as a way of shutting his or her mind off before going to sleep. However, this typically just contributes to the problem since substance abuse tends to make a person feel worse. Those who have faced addiction in the past are at greater risk for developing substance abuse issues. Caring for seniors with long-term health problems puts emotional stress on caregivers who may already be burned out.

Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Coral Gables, Florida, home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Identify the Signs of a Developing Problem

Drug and alcohol abuse begins slowly unless a person has battled addiction in the past. This means there is time to recognize the signs and help the caregiver before it is too late. One of the early signs of substance abuse is having more drinks than normal. You may also notice the caregiver’s personality seems different. For instance, he or she may appear more active or lethargic than normal. Over time, substance abuse can lead to further changes such as being late for appointments or failing to complete parts of the senior’s daily routine. 

Open Up a Conversation

When you suspect substance abuse, it is important to act quickly since an inebriated caregiver can put a senior at risk of health issues and medication mishaps. The best approach for bringing up substance abuse will depend on the caregiver’s personality. While some might admit to the problem, others will be in denial. For this reason, it is often best to address the underlying causes of substance abuse such as having too much stress. As you talk to the caregiver, find out which parts of the caregiving responsibilities are causing stress so you can work together to find a solution.

If the caregiver is stressed or feeling burned out, consider professional respite care. Coral Gables respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.

Relieve Stress with Support

Family caregivers who are overburdened can find relief through several resources. For instance, hiring a professional caregiver provides respite for caregivers to attend support groups or seek counseling for substance abuse. Additionally, bringing another caregiver into the care team gives stressed caregivers someone to lean on when they need a break. Surrounding a family caregiver with support is the best way to ensure everyone receives the care they need to be healthy.

If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Coral Gables Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. To hire a professional respite or live-in caregiver, call us at 1 (305) 964-5636 today.