The baby boomer population is now between the ages of 51 and 70, which means they are both considering retirement and how they will address their needs as they age. Many older Americans rely on their children and other caregivers for mental, physical, and financial care.
This heavy responsibility can be difficult for anyone, and it can get worse as your parents age and develop physical and cognitive disabilities. For elderly parents afflicted with a progressive dementing illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, specialized Alzheimer’s care may be needed. The fact of the matter is that as a primary caregiver you cannot provide around-the-clock care for your older parent without giving up a major portion of your life. So how can you make adjustments for your aging parents without always being able to be there for them? Home care might be a good compromise.
When to Ask for Help
Caring for your aging parents and meeting all of their basic living needs, also known as “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs), can be extremely difficult—whether your mother is extremely opinionated or your father just cannot seem to take care of himself in many of the ways he used to. Although your parents may want to spend as much time with you (and your children) as possible, visiting on a daily basis simply isn’t possible in many situations.
Assistance With Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
In addition, your parents may need more than just company—they may need help with household chores, personal care, toileting, dressing, mobility, and other essential activities of daily living (ADLs). While caregivers likely can do some things around the house, caregivers have their own household to maintain. Sharing some of these important responsibilities with an in-home care provider can help lift some of this burden. It is not selfish to take time for yourself; it is a practical solution.
The Importance of Companionship and Socialization
Your parents will love a visit from other people, and it will provide some free time for you or other family caregivers as well. If you or family members cannot fulfill all of your parents’ ADLs needs,, then a home care provider might be an ideal option to accessing additional support. Your parents will love the visit from other people, and it will provide some extra time and relief for family caregivers. Home care services can help with very basic needs as well as some of the more complicated non-medical issues as well, such as providing friendly social stimulation they might not be getting from outside of the house. Social stimulation for aging seniors can help ward off unwanted feelings of depression and isolation.
Sharing Caregiver Responsibilities and Avoiding Burnout
Trying to do everything on your own can lead to frustration, burnout, and even situations where you grow to resent your parents. Your parent may be angry and confused, and unfortunately, they may take some of that out on you or their caregiver. Approaching your role this way can be extremely emotionally draining, which is part of the reason that long term family caregivers often report symptoms of frustration, anxiety, depression, and in severe situations – caregiver burnout.
Keep in mind that it is just as important for you to take care of yourself – mentally, emotionally, and physically, as it is for you to provide care for your loved ones. As a caregiver, you need to take this time for yourself as to not become too overwhelmed with all the caregiving responsibilities involved with your aging parent. Everyone has their limits and caregivers are not exempt from exhaustion. Pushing yourself too far can soon lead to caregiver burnout – which could mean sacrificing one’s own well-being as well as the well-being of their loved one who they are unable to provide safe and effective care to. Elderly spouses who have assumed caregiving duties are very susceptible to burnout because they want to be fully supportive, but they do not have the energy and versatility to provide support with every ADLs that needs extra help.
Caregivers can help to avoid caregiver burnout by entrusting some of their responsibilities to professional caregivers whenever possible. Professional non-medical in-home caregivers understand the difficulties of caring for a loved one’s needs while also having to take care of yourself. Licensed and certified aides can give caregivers relief and time to manage life’s other important responsibilities while providing the essential support with ADLs and share other care duties that are, or have been, routinely carried out by family caregivers that aren’t able to effectively handle each situation they encounter.
Keep in Mind What Your Parents Are Going Through
As you are going through changes in your life, so are your parents. Being unable to do things that they could once do is frightening and confusing. It is difficult to imagine what your parents are going through, and they may not want to talk about it with their child. Expressing sensitivity to your parents’ feelings about the changes that their life is going through will be helpful in your relationship. Keep these general ideas in mind during interactions that you have with your aging parents:
- Your parents may be worried about their physical and mental health on a daily basis
- They may not want to be “taken care of” as they struggle to hold onto independence
- It is difficult to realize that you can no longer physically and mentally do things that you have been doing all of your life
- Your parents may be too stubborn or unable to ask for help when they actually need it
- Your parents may not want to talk about, let alone prepare for, their declining abilities
It can be difficult to wrap your head around the fact that your once strong, proud parents can no longer take care of themselves the way they have their entire lives. Instead, they are depending on you and your family to help figure things out for them.
Starting Tough Conversations
Sometimes bringing in a professional who deals with elderly individuals on a regular basis can get your parents talking about these challenging topics. They may not want to discuss their shortcomings with you, but they might talk to someone else. Getting acquainted with your options for home care services by scheduling a complimentary care evaluation might be a good way to get the conversation started.
Contact Comfort Home Care for Support Today!
Everyone’s parents are going to age slightly differently and have various rates of physical and mental decline as time goes on. Find comprehensive, professional help for your parents by considering what in-home non-medical care can do for your family. Contact us online or by phone to schedule a complimentary evaluation if you have any questions regarding how Comfort Home Care can help you and your loved one.