If you have an elderly parent or loved one who is nearing a time in life where they start to need help with the daily tasks of daily life, such as cooking, cleaning and maintaining their home, you may have starting thinking about how this scenario plays out.
As our population lives longer and longer, this scenario is a reality for millions of adults. Their parents are getting older and can no longer take care of their day-to-day activities without help from family members or services. When you try to broach the subject with your parents, often the first words you’ll hear is “I want to stay home, I don’t want to go into a nursing home.”
Your parent, no matter their condition, will need someone that is able to dedicate a large portion of their time to them in order to receive proper senior care. Without proper care, your loved one’s health could suffer.
While most seniors prefer to age in their own home, when a loved one’s health declines and they need immediate or sudden help, many people are suddenly faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to provide that care themselves.
While many people can, and do, decide to take on this task themselves, it’s a difficult decision. It is very important that the potential caretaker understand what they are getting into so that they can prepare for the challenges ahead.
However, many people do not realize the true reality of what becoming a caregiver for a parent entails. Many people assume that it is not that difficult. This is not always correct.
Many of the 65 million Americans who provide care for a loved one wish they could go back and take more time to prepare. “They wish they had known which questions to ask, which steps to take, and how to best assess the situation so that they could guarantee the best quality of life for their parents and themselves.”
If you’re thinking about becoming a caregiver for your parent, the first step needs to be a realistic and honest assessment of what support you can provide. You need to consider quite a few things about lifestyle, time, finances and other things such as:
Time commitment. Are you available to commit to many hours a week caring for your loved one in addition to your regular commitments?
Flexibility. Is your job flexible enough to allow you to leave work for physician appointments or other needs your parent may have? Do you have the capacity to take on extra housekeeping and laundry for an additional person?
Financial stability. Do you have the resources to pay for the extra things your parent may need? If they’re moving into your home, can you financially afford any household modifications or adaptability tools they may require?
Proximity. If your parents are not moving in with you, do you live close enough to them to be an effective caregiver?
Emotional stability. Consider your own life. Do you have young children that require most of your time? Do you have older children with many commitments such as sports, or academic pursuits? Do you have a special needs child? Will adding the responsibility of a new dependent be too overwhelming for you and your family to handle? How will this decision affect your spouse or your relationship with your spouse?
Skills. Can you handle medication administration? Are you able to deal with bathroom accidents or helping with transfers from bed to chair or bathing requirements? While you may not be a medical professional, do you have the overall skills and mental stamina to take on this responsibility?
Those considering becoming a caregiver to an aging loved one need to honestly consider the demands on time, lifestyle and before committing to this major life adjustment. By having the difficult conversations now, you can address concerns from your family, employer and with your own support system. Being a caregiver is a huge commitment that requires a large sacrifice on your part, and you need to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of the decision before committing. By taking the time to do an honest assessment of your abilities and situation, you’ll go into your decision with a much clearer picture of next steps for you and your loved one.