The realization that you are going to have to care for one or both parents may be starting to hit you. The truth is, most families will face this as the aging baby boomer starts to require more and more healthcare. Caring for an elderly parent is a big undertaking to be sure. Whether that is in their home or yours, things are going to change for both of you.
Many prospective caregivers try to find ways to fixate on the positive and try to find the rainbow in the looming storm cloud of providing care for a loved one. There are a few things to consider before you ready yourself, your family and your home for caring for an elderly parent. Let’s go over a few sobering truths before you dive headlong into family caregiving without considering what’s beneath the surface.
Keep Grounded In These Truths About Caring For An Elderly Parent
Once you have figured out the practical logistics with caring for an elderly parent, now it is time to focus on the emotional impact this is going to have on you and your loved ones. This endeavor is going to effect you whether you like it or not, so let’s discuss what you need to know to prepare yourself emotionally for what is coming.
1) Strained Relationships Will Seldom Improve If You Are The Caregiver
Too many prospective family caregivers make the mistake of hoping that taking care of a parent of whom they have strained relations with is going to improve now that they need their help. Unfortunately, too many caregivers tearfully report that not only did it not improve, for many it got worse. Caregiving for someone who is sick or disabled is very stressful. Being sick and in need of care is also stressful. Put a difficult relationship in the middle of both situations and you have the perfect recipe for hurt feelings, disappointment and conflict for all involved.
Don’t despair, just set the right expectations for yourself in order to safeguard your emotions from upheaval. It might be worth your while to find a caregiver support group in your area for the times you want a safe place to unload your feelings without taking it out on your elderly parent or other family members.
2) You Probably Won’t Feel Very Appreciated For What You Are Doing
If there is anything we hear most from family caregivers it’s their effort and what they anticipate for gratitude rarely match up. For a caregiver who has a family of their own, maybe a job and other obligations competing in tandem for time with caring for an elderly parent, their perception is that they are bending over backwards to make sure mom and/or dad are well looked after. When the appreciation doesn’t show through, resentment builds sometimes reaching a breaking point in the form of a bonafide caregiver meltdown.
Maybe you really aren’t appreciated for what you are doing, perhaps you just feel that way. Regardless of which of these situations you find yourself in, caregiver stress is real and not getting a “thank you” tends to leave the nerves raw. Level set your expectations on what you are doing. Are you doing this for applause or because you love the person whom care is needed? Make up your mind that you’d do this no matter what the appreciation level and thank yourself for doing the right thing in caring for an elderly parent. It will go along way in avoiding conflict.
3) Getting Help With Care From Other Family Members Might Not Be What You Hoped
It is the perfect scenario when every family member pitches in equally to help in caring for an elderly parent. Be advised; this doesn’t usually happen. Sometimes being able to equally help the primary family caregiver is just not logistically possible due to distance. Other times, for other reasons, whether real or imaginary, your other family members are going to rely heavily on you to provide the care yourself.
Getting into this not expecting everyone to pull their weight will help you be realistic about how much time this will require of you and what you will need to sacrifice to make it happen. By all means ask for help, and go the extra step in asking what they are willing to do to help instead of just asking for them to generally help you out. You’ll have answers as to what help is coming and you’ll be able to adjust yourself accordingly.
How You Can Keep It All Together When Caring For An Elderly Parent
Now that we’ve covered how to set yourself up for success emotionally when the need for caring for an elderly parent becomes a reality, let’s talk about how you are going to manage the deluge of medical information, care instructions, medication lists and team of care specialists that you will be interacting with on a regular basis. How do you plan on managing all this care coordination and information between you, your family, and your parent’s care team?
eCare Vault is the solution for the busy family caregiver trying to keep it all together and get care done efficiently and with their sanity intact. A cloud-based, secure platform helps you do it all from your tablet or smartphone. Now that’s smart care management! Support groups and therapists can help you with the emotional side of caring for an elderly parent, but eCare Vault can help you manage all the rest. Get your login today and find out how manageable care management can be.
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