Being your parent’s caregiver can be challenging as it implies beginning a new chapter in your relationship with your parent. Taking care of a loved one increases your responsibilities because more work, sacrifices, and time are required. To fully commit to this new role as a caregiver, it’s imperative to set boundaries, do your research, and understand the situation.
Knowing when to step in and what your parent needs will help you figure out what you can handle. This article outlines tips to guide you in your role as a care provider, making the transition smoother.
- Medical and health issues
It is fairly common for seniors to have medical concerns. Many older adults’ chronic conditions require medications, monitoring, and ongoing management. Alternatively, your parent may develop new health concerns or symptoms and need your help to get evaluated.
For aging adults, recovering from illness requires assistance. They cannot make health decisions and oversee their healthcare when they suffer from serious illnesses such as gastroenteritis, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, or lung issues. Aside from that, this situation can put you in the worst possible position if you do not have financial assistance. However, you can get help.
For example, if your loved one is suffering from mesothelioma, a rare type of lung cancer only caused by asbestos exposure, you can seek the assistance of a mesothelioma law firm. It will offer you monetary compensation by suing the company that exposed its workers to asbestos. However, you must present your case adequately to ensure success.
2. Be clear about your expectations
Before you become a caregiver for your parent, you should discuss your boundaries and expectations about how this relationship will work. Remember that both of your lives are undergoing tremendous changes during this phase.
If you are an adult caring for their parents, be patient and compassionate with them. Realize that they are not the same as they once were, which is challenging for both of you to accept.
Show them you are on their side and assist them as needed, not imposing your agenda on them. Set expectations by letting them know what you’re comfortable taking on as a caretaker and what you’re not. In situations where medical care is involved, you would prefer to coordinate at-home care for them instead of helping them around the house. Learning and understanding caregivers’ different responsibilities will help you determine what you are willing to do and not do.
It is also important for you to understand what your parents want from their care. Once your parents can no longer make their own decisions, ask them who they would like to serve as their power of attorney. Also, make sure that they have completed an advance directive.
3. Caregiving’s physical components
Most people do not realize how many different aspects of caring for someone are, and responsibilities often change over time. For a smooth transition into this chapter, you must understand what support a parent needs and what assistance you can provide.
The first step in caring for an aging parent is to decide where the care will be provided. A child might move into their parent’s house, or their parents move in with them. Other options include independent living communities, assisted living communities, and nursing homes. You can also take advantage of the services of a social worker or your local nursing home agency.
4. Assistance with financial matters
Taking care of an older person will cost money regardless of the situation. Knowing their future costs will make it easier to set up a care schedule for them.
Consider the cost of their medical care, their living situation (such as assisted living versus moving in with you), and everyday costs such as food, caregiving supplies, and home safety modifications. Knowing their financial situation will let you know whether they can afford the care they need or if financial assistance is needed.
There are a variety of government programs, Medicaid, and other programs that can assist with long-term care costs. When it comes to Medicaid eligibility, you might want to seek the advice of an elder law attorney or financial planner. In any case, it’s best to prepare in advance to avoid financial difficulties.
5. Basic home safety precautions
It is common for a home to become more hazardous with age, making it more likely for older adults to trip, fall, or injure themselves.
Maintaining your parent’s independence for as long as possible can be achieved by preventing falls. You can fix these problems simply by removing clutter, cords, and rugs from all floors and walkways. Also, make the bathroom and stairs safer by installing grab bars and use bright lights and easy-to-use switches in all the rooms. Additionally, you can place appliances in easy-to-reach locations which will reduce the need to bend down or use stepstools.
6. Relationship management and family dynamics
Caring for an older parent often leads to challenging relationships and difficult emotions.
Well-intentioned people often mistreat older relatives in ways that threaten their independence and dignity. Family caregivers may also encounter relationship challenges with siblings, parents, or others involved in the caregiving process.
You can try to practice and learn better communication skills to manage these relationship dynamics better.
While looking after a parent can be rewarding, it is also stressful. Caregivers often neglect their own needs and well-being due to their busy schedules. It compromises their health and makes it harder for them to connect with their elderly parents and provide care.
There are a variety of strategies that you can use to manage your caregiving strain. A few of these include joining a support group, reaching out for help, setting boundaries, and taking care of your health and other needs. Family caregivers can also succeed if they organize and prioritize their tasks.
Your presence is important for your aging parent because they need your support and attention. There is no way you can control everything, and you probably won’t be able to get all the safer outcomes for them that you want. Nevertheless, it’s all right. You will do your best by showing up to help, learning how to do it better, and accompanying them on their aging journey. In turn, It will make a tremendous difference for your elderly parent.