Taking care of the needs of an elderly parent can be incredibly challenging. Being a caregiver takes a toll on your health, finances, marriage and family life. Whether you are a caregiver to a loved one in your home twenty-four hours a day, or you take care of someone in their home part-time, it becomes necessary at some point to address the stress that comes along with being a caregiver.
Recent studies reveal that caregivers visit health-care providers twice as often as non-caregivers. Caregivers also take 70 percent more prescription medications, and visit the emergency room 25 percent more than those who care for only themselves. The physical, mental, and emotional toll of providing care to the elderly necessitates that caregivers stay alert to ways to reduce stress and incorporate better homecare solutions.
Meeting the Challenges of Eldercare
Taking care of an aging parent involves making difficult decisions. Because the situation itself is stressful, these decisions can become overwhelming when siblings don’t agree. Arguments may develop over who should provide care when, deciding if a nursing home is the best solution, or which sibling should have control over the finances. How can families get along during these tense discussions?
- Be respectful of each sibling’s opinion and suggestions. Listen before you speak, and give each family member time to express their thoughts and feelings.
- Let go of past grievances and petty sibling rivalries. Leave all potentially disruptive issues out of the discussion.
- Focus on the needs of the parent. Prioritize the most important issues and pressing concerns, and leave non-relevant matters for another time.
- Stay calm and in control of your emotions. Try to be as objective as possible.
Family meetings will go much more smoothly when each sibling follows the above advice. During everyday conversations, the same principles still apply. Good communication is key to working through challenges relating to elderly homecare. Other helpful tips for successfully handling care management are:
- Be clear and specific when asking for help. Let your siblings know exactly what you need.
- Let go of high expectations. Recognize that your siblings have their own families and complicated lives and be reasonable in what you expect of them.
- Be flexible. Making room for different solutions and being adaptable will lessen stress and allow for smoother discussions.
Taking Care of the Caregiver
Many caregivers spend so much time caring for the needs of their elderly parent, they forget about their own. Balancing a marriage, kids, and work is difficult enough without adding in the added stress of eldercare. The demands of caregiving can easily become overwhelming, especially if you feel you have little control over the situation. Stress can quickly lead to burnout, which damages both your physical and mental health – not to mention leaves your family and elderly parents without the care they need. How can you avoid burnout?
- Know your limits. Be realistic about how much of your time (and yourself) you can give. Set specific limits and stick to them.
- Ask for help. You may resist the thought that you can’t do this alone, but the truth is no one can.
- Seek support from other caregivers; their insight and understanding will strengthen you.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your health, exercise, or enjoying “me time.” Spending time doing things you love is absolutely critical.
It’s also important for caregivers to watch out for signs of depression. If you find that you are:
- Spending less times doing things you enjoy
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Experiencing more periods of sadness and hopelessness
…It’s likely time to seek help. Many family members eventually turn to homecare agencies for assistance. The benefits of bringing in outside help far outweigh any reservations you may have.
Coaching for Caregivers
Are you trying to balance caring for your aging parents, and your growing family, and finding it difficult to navigate this journey on your own?
The information on this site is intended for informational purposes only. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.