Caregiving Mistake #3: Not Anticipating the Impact Caregiving Will Have on Your Life
Many times we are plunged into caring for a family member by illness or accident. Of course, during an emergency, we make extraordinary sacrifices to watch over our loved one and help him recuperate.
After the initial crisis has passed, it’s time to take stock by answering these questions.
Are the changes in your parent’s condition permanent?
What types of help is your parent likely to need over the next three to six months?
How have you changed your schedule to meet your parent’s needs?
What impact is this having on your day-to-day life?
How do your caregiving responsibilities affect your job, your family and your free time?
The answers to these questions can be sobering.
Once you have a picture of how you have adapted to meet your parent’s needs, ask yourself two final questions.
If I were providing the same level of care five years from now how would I feel?
What changes do I need to make to continue to provide care in a way that is aligned with how I want to care for my parent and how I need to take care of myself?
Caregiving can have a negative affect on your career and your family life. Studies have shown that caregivers are more likely than other workers to scale back by working part time, taking early retirement and passing up educational and promotion opportunities.
The needs of your parent will likely continue to increase. You need to move out of the reactive mode of crisis into a more thoughtful mode where you evaluate and establish your own boundaries of what you need in your life. You want to build your caregiving model from the place of carefully considering your own needs.
Caregiving can expand to fill all your available time if you let it. Establishing boundaries is vital. You can have more productive conversations with your parent about what resources will be needed and where they will come from, if you are clear about what you can and cannot do personally.
As you define your boundaries, keep in mind that social and cultural expectations will influence your decisions and how you feel about them. It is not uncommon for parents and adult children to have different ideas about how and where care will be provided. Open communications are the best way to address these conflicts.
Your challenge for today is to define two boundaries that you have set or would like to set in your caregiving.
Next week, we will explore how taking care of yourself is an essential element of being a successful caregiver.