As your parents become older, there may come a time that they can no longer take care of themselves in the manner that they once could.
At first, it may be that mom or dad can only drive in the daytime. After that, it could be that you need to help with medications. Before long, those little things add up and become big things.
Becoming a caregiver for your elderly parent is not something many of us plan for; however, it can become a necessity — both in short-term and long-term cases.
If you find yourself moving into this role, it is important to think about how it will affect your entire life. Consider these five things that many people fail to think about when they become the primary caregiver for their parent or parents.
It Changes the Relationship
When you are just stopping in now and then to check up on mom or dad, you maintain that “parent/child relationship.” Once you cross into the caregiver role, the entire relationship changes.
Sometimes, that change goes well. It can be seamless, in fact. On other occasions, it is a difficult pill to swallow for everyone involved.
Your parent may resent the fact that you are taking over, and you may resent the fact that you need to do so. It is vital that you work out these feelings, even if it involves talking with a professional.
It Is a Full-time Job
It cannot be emphasized enough how much work goes into taking care of another person. Even if you are not living with your mom or dad, you will find that you spend nearly as much time at their house as you do your own. If you are working at the same time, your stress level will be high.
If you take time off of work or away from your family to care for your parents, you may develop resentment. The time you must commit is incredible, and it is admirable that you would consider doing so.
There Will Be Added Stress and Worries
Chances are, you will find something new to worry about each and every day. Is your mom getting a well-balanced diet when you aren’t around? Are those handrails you installed strong enough? What would happen if someone came to the door late at night?
The worries pile up–it’s only natural. These concerns can quickly turn into anxiety if not managed and kept in check, which makes caring for your parents more difficult.
We suggest that people pay close attention to the things being worried about; often, anxiety becomes a habit. If they write down their concerns, they can be evaluated in a healthy way once the emotion of a moment has passed.
It is Easy to Lose Yourself
As with any demanding job, those caring for their parents are prone to falling into “caregiver depression.” It’s understandable; when you are putting someone else’s needs before your own and spending so much time focusing on taking care of them, your personal life falls down the priority line. This takes a toll on your emotions, and can manifest in a variety of ways.
Be aware of potential feelings of sadness, loneliness, and even resentment, as they can turn into depression–which is even less conducive to caring for your loved one the way you want to. Whenever possible, remember to care for yourself; don’t run yourself into the ground trying to do it all.
Flexibility is Key
Caring for your parent is an unpredictable job; it’s impossible to know what tomorrow may bring. Whether an unexpected circumstance in your own life (perhaps your child needs a chaperone for a field trip,) or an incident with your parent (one fall could have a big impact on mobility,) the job description of caring for your parent is ever-changing.
Few people are fortunate enough to have enough flexibility in their lives to roll with the changes without complication, which is why many people look at other options — such as assisted living or care communities — to add stability to the routine.
Being the main caregiver for a parent is incredibly tough, but it doesn’t have to be something you do alone. Even if you don’t have other family members nearby that can pitch in and help, there is assistance available.
Senior Living Advisers are completely free consultants who advise and assist those considering out-of-home care or an in-home care provider. CareChoice is a senior advisory firm that offers this advice and assistance in this complicated, emotional, and confusing situation.
If you are interested in learning about assisted living in Atlanta, give us a call at (404) 402-1499 or visit our website for more information. It is our goal to reduce your worries and make the next steps easier.