Do My Parents Need More Help?
When I was caring for my mom, I never considered myself a “caregiver.” In fact, the word caregiver was not used very often when referring to senior care. As I reflect on the kind of help I was giving my mom like driving, cooking, attending medical appointments, bill paying and cleaning those things were caregiver related duties. I wasn’t just doing “what any daughter would do.”
I was a caregiver.
You may be starting to think about your parents and your family’s future, and trying to decipher your role in all of it. Should you become your parent’s primary caregiver? Sometimes we feel like there’s no other option. But before you decide on anything, be sure you ask yourself the hard questions, and be honest with your responses. Questions such as
1. Do I want to do this? Becoming a full-time caregiver is more than just taking on a full-time job, especially when it’s with a loved one. I don’t for a second regret taking care of my mom as I did, but I don’t know if I’d feel the same about other family members were I put in that position. So make sure this is something you truly want to do, not something you feel like you have to do.
2. Will I be able to make time for myself, my family, my other responsibilities and to be a child, not a caregiver? Many who take on this role as caregiver find it takes over their whole life. It’s crucial that you still keep your sense of self throughout this process.
3. Will I be able to accept help when needed? Many don’t realize how much of a physical and emotional toll caregiving can have on a person. Watching a loved one deteriorate is heartbreaking, and isn’t something everyone can do day after day.
4. Can I financially afford this, and will my job be flexible enough to allow me caring for my parent?
5. Am I mentally prepared for this? The role reversal of almost becoming your parent’s parent can be difficult for both parties.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months.
If you decide yes- there’s no other way this could go I have to be there for my mom, it’s easy to let your mind start running wild. Where will they live, in their home, yours, or somewhere else entirely? Do you have extra, safe room for them in your home? Do you need to hire additional help and how much would that cost? All of this can sound overwhelming- so if it’s possible to sit down as a family and start forming a plan. We have an entire post on having “The Talk” with your parents so that you can learn what their wishes are and start getting your team together.
As I said, I am so thankful for being in a position that I could take care of my mom the way I did. But that doesn’t mean that’s the path for everyone. Caregiving isn’t easy so whether you decide to become your parent’s primary caregiver or not, remember to use other resources that are available to you such as volunteers, friends, other family members, neighbors, and community programs.