If you are considering becoming a caretaker for your aging parents or other family member, there are a few questions you should ask yourself in preparation for this important role. It can be very demanding, but also wonderfully rewarding.
Many of us have parents who have reached the place where they need some extra help with the daily grind. Perhaps they need some assistance with cooking and housekeeping, or maybe they need a higher level of care for a chronic medical condition, but they have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to be placed in a nursing home.
Most seniors want the dignity of remaining as independent as possible for as long as possible. This likely includes aging at home so they can stay in a familiar environment. However, they may come to that place of needing the care and assistance that only a caregiver can provide. This may happen gradually or unexpectedly fast, but either way, it’s good to think through the process of becoming a caregiver to your aging family member.
Becoming a caregiver requires more than just physical assistance. It will often involve advocating by lining up doctor visits, home medical care from skilled nurses, physical therapy, etc. You will be managing medications, meals and overall wellbeing of your loved one. With more baby boomers retiring, the number of Americans caring for aging parents is also increasing. Currently, more than 68 million people in the United States are caregivers for their parents or other loved ones.
So How Do You Know If You’re Ready to Be a Caregiver?
There are some questions you should ask yourself before taking on this role. You’ll need to carefully consider important factors such as your own stamina, availability and even whether you have the right personality to provide ongoing effective care. You also need to make sure you can continue to care for yourself properly while taking on the role of parental caregiver. Being a caregiver for your parents can affect not only your relationship with them, but also other relationships in your life, so ask yourself these questions early to avoid the sudden shock so many people find themselves in when faced with the decision to become a caregiver:
1. Am I fully able of providing proper care for my aging loved one?
2. Do I have the support of other family and friends that I will need?
3. Do I have the required resources to be a caregiver?
4. Do I can still make time for my family as well as myself?
5. Can I handle the mental and physical strain of being a caregiver?
6. Am I a perfectionist or can I accept challenges and struggles?
7. Am I able to allow for breaks and/or accepting outside help?
8. Am I financially ready for the costs that come with caregiving?
9. Do I have the flexibility in my job that will be required when becoming a caregiver?
10. Can I determine when assisted living or skilled nursing care might be required?
A Few More Tips for Parental Caregivers
There are lots of resources available to help lighten your load as a caregiver. Avail yourself of them! Be sure to have a good support system in place to help you through the difficult times.
If your aging parent is suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s especially important that you have lots of support. Both conditions cause our loved one to say and do things they would never have normally done. They lose their filter and can behave in ways that may shock you or even offend you at times. This can be challenging for even the most prepared caregiver, but when it’s your own parents, it can be upsetting. Having support is crucial.
It’s important to remember that you can easily become hurt when you’re sacrificing your own time and freedom to provide care for your aging parents. Aging can sometimes bring the worst out in people and so you will need to give yourself and your parents lots of grace for this journey!
Being a caregiver can be an incredibly rewarding experience when you are properly prepared. If after answering the questions above honestly and you feel you cannot take care of your aging parent, please call Home Helpers, we can help.