As your parents grow older and require more help, what started out as a weekly visit and a trip to the grocery store can turn into hours a day spent preparing meals and driving to doctor’s appointments. The time you spend helping your parents can start to affect your work, your parenting, and your relationships. What’s more, it is both mentally and physically exhausting for you as the caregiver.
Some caregivers choose to leave their jobs in order to make more time for their parents, while others decide to have their parents move in with them. However, those are not options for everyone. And even if you choose to leave your parent in their home and hire outside help to care for them, you may still carry the burden of your parent’s finances, health and medical coordination, and emotional well-being. So how do you care for your parents while making sure that you don’t stop caring for yourself?
First, establish a support system early. If you have siblings, find ways that everyone can help out. Have back-up care established in case of emergencies. Find a home-care agency that you are comfortable with so that you can take the occasional day off to recharge. Being a full-time care giver can be exhausting; don’t take on the entire burden yourself.
Second, know your limits and have plans for when you reach them. It does no one any good if you deplete yourself to the point where you have nothing more to give. Do your children say that they miss you? Are you in danger of losing your job because you have missed too many days of work? Don’t be afraid to rely on your support system when you need them.
Third, take advantage of the help that is already out there. Perhaps your employer offers flex time that you can use, or maybe you can hire a financial planner to handle your parent’s finances. Look into what forms of assistance your community offers for seniors – for example, many offer transportation just for the elderly, or adult day programs where your parent can talk with other people in the same age group. The programs are out there, you just need to look for them and be willing to delegate a piece of your parent’s care to someone else.
Taking care of your parents as they age can be difficult, but rewarding. Remember from the start that you can only do your best, and that your best is not going to be perfect. But, if you do it with love and respect for your parent and yourself, you can make this time the best it can be for everyone involved.
At First Class Home Care Inc. we realize that there is no single option out there that is right for everyone. Family support is essential for the well-being of our seniors but their caregivers must also look after themselves so that they remain healthy and connected to everyone in their lives. If you are experiencing difficulties in providing care for a loved one and require support please contact us at 905-636-9995 and we’ll help find a solution that is right for you.