Liability of Caregiving
Anyone who accepts the
responsibilities of a caregiver must also understand that there are
a number of legal duties or liabilities that come with it.
states including California have passed elderly abuse laws.
Caregivers are bound by these laws in two ways: not to abuse the
elder person (physically, mentally or monetarily) and report any
incidents of abuse or suspected abuse.
As a caregiver, you must provide a
clean and safe environment, nutritious meals, clean bedding, and
clothes. At the same time, if you are in charge of the elderly
person's finances, you must use that money properly, purchasing
necessary services for the benefit of the person to whom care is
given. Failure to provide care, failure to get care, and failure to
purchase care are all forms of abuse or neglect.
In addition, caregivers may not
physically, sexually or psychologically abuse the person receiving
the care. Yelling, screaming, withholding affection, etc., are as
much an abuse of the person as is striking the person with the hand
or with objects.
Therefore, if you are contemplating becoming, or
are now a care giver, you must be ready to accept the physical,
psychological and legal duties to provide the necessary care.
are reaching a point where you are no longer able, physically or
emotionally, to provide the proper care, we urge you to consider the
alternatives to personal care-giving and to seek help with this
decision from a counselor or one of the resources available in
47. When is it Time to Stop Caregiving?
As we have stated repeatedly
throughout this booklet, care-giving is a very stressful situation.
Stress either causes or exacerbates some 70 to 90 percent of all
medical complaints, including tension and migraine headaches, high
blood pressure, asthma, nervous stomach, bowel problems, and chronic
lower back pains. There is research evidence indicating stress plays
a role in a person's susceptibility to heart disease, stroke, and
Stress has also been implicated in
psychological disorders such as anxiety reactions, depressions and
phobias, as well as poor work performance, drug and alcohol abuse,
insomnia, and unexplained violence.
If you are experiencing any of
the above, it is extremely important that you learn and use various
techniques for stress reduction (some are mentioned in this
booklet), come to
the decision, both for your well-being and that of your
care-receiver that it is time to stop caregiving.
Below are some telltale signs which
can help you assess when you have reached this fork in the road;
seek help professional help, utilize more stress reduction methods,
or stop care-giving:
While these are not exclusive, they
indicate a classic picture of caregiver burnout. The
treatment for caregiver burnout is simple -- get help and get away
for extended periods, either through stress management respite help
or through a complete change in care-giving.
- snapping at the care-receiver
constantly even over little things,
- being constantly irritated,
- seldom laughing anymore,
- feeling constantly tired or
- losing sleep, failing to fall
asleep for hours, sleeping restlessly all night long,
- yelling or screaming, or having
crying fits, or rages frequently,
- withholding affection, feelings
of goodwill from the care-recipient,
- withholding food, baths,
dressing changes, etc.,
- constantly blaming the
care-receiver for your being in this situation (his/her isolated
- refusing to go out anymore, even
for a walk because he/she needs me,
- withholding expenditures for
goods or services he/she needs because he/she is going to die
soon and it is wasted money,
No one can remain a full-time
caregiver forever; the job is much too strenuous and stressful. The
point we wish to set forth is: When should I say this is my
limit; I am not able to do any more. Be honest with yourself,
and when that limit has been reached, STOP! Research
alternatives, request help from qualified professionals, and rest
easy, because you did the right thing!