How Teletherapy Can Help Caregivers Get the Help They Need

Blog, Caregiver Stress, Elderly Population, Teletherapy

In my practice, we take care of the elderly population and ensure they get the help they need. Our services include much needed in home and assisted living facility comprehensive senior services. A main goal is to help the aging population simply age at home if possible and if not, make sure they age well at the facility they reside at. However, as my practice continues to grow in the nursing and assisted living facilities, so does the need for in home therapy. Yet, as we continue to help people age at home, the one segment of the population that we have discovered who needs help and is somewhat ‘left behind’ in this equation, are the caregivers of their elderly parents.

In a previous blog, I wrote of the Sandwich Generation and how caregivers, who are often Baby Boomers are ‘sandwiched’ between their elderly parents (who are living longer and longer these days) and their own young adult children who still need guidance and support. Some of these young adults may (and often do) still live at home or have returned home post college. They return home because of financial limitations or trying to save money to venture out on their own. For many of the baby boomer adults/parents, they continue to work.

Their lives are exponentially demanding – the demands placed on them by caring for their elderly parents and concurrently their young adult children. This generation is often the one left behind when it comes to care. Busy taking care of others, they don’t take the time to take care of themselves.

Sarah, age 58, is a retired nurse. Her elderly mother, age 85, lives with her and her husband. Her mother has been living with them for the past 5 years. We received a referral to work with her mother to address any possible underlying depression she was experiencing. She recently fell and broke her ankle and her ability to move about and remain independent has now been drastically limited. Although there was a need – from our perspective – that her mother could benefit from in home psychotherapy, she declined services. I must admit that this has occurred before and isn’t that uncommon. The adult children taking care of their elderly parents might want it, but at the end, it has to be the decision made my the client. In speaking with Sarah following my evaluation, it appeared that Sarah actually might be the one in need of psychotherapy. Run down and exhausted, she is just beginning to explore the possibility of getting an aide in to help her mother and provide some much needed respite care for Sarah. She feels her mother will not be on board with that change, but she can no longer be her mother’s caretaker, 24/7. However, her tearfulness and exhaustion goes beyond getting an aide in for a few hours a day. I share with her that that’s a start but how is she taking care of herself? What are her resources? Does she have a therapist she can speak to for support and professional feedback? She replies, no – though she has thought about it. But how will get out of the house? And she expressed that when she is able to get out for a bit, the last place she wants to go it to a therapist’s office.

This is a common dilemma because in essence, doing that just add one more thing to her plate. A plate that is very full.

This is where teletherapy comes in. Teletherapy (or telehealth as they are both used) has been increasingly recognized (and reimbursed by some insurance companies) as a way to help those in need the most – those people who may not have accessibility to receive much needed psychotherapy. Yes, there are limitations regarding state licensing requirements (for therapists, psychologists) however it represents the future. It’s also the perfect fit to reach caregivers who are stressed out and caring for often two generations, without having to leave their home and add one more thing to their ever expanding list of things to do.

In the next few months, we will be launching a teletherapy program focused on caregivers who provide support for their elderly parents. This will be a welcome and much needed addition to our current (and expanding) senior services. So while the adult children help their aging parent or parents, we will help them cope, stay healthy, have a platform to share their frustrations, and provide evidence based therapy so they can feel better, less overwhelmed and stressed, and get back on track.

Still have questions? Feel free to reach out and contact me. Happy to answer any questions you might have.