Caretaking for an Elderly Parent and the Toll It Takes
Caregiving comes with complex emotions and experiences. Caring for your aging parents while they remain in their own home or yours can give you a sense of meaning and purpose. However, you may feel isolated, stressed, and tired. You’re worried about letting your parents down and fearful about your their health and happiness as their needs continue to grow.
Additionally, you may have lost your sense of self and your parent-child relationship in the role of caregiving. You may be noticing how much of your time and energy has been consumed with caregiving. Now, there is little time for the things you once enjoyed, like hobbies, activities, and time with your own family.
In the case of my own experiences, I see the mother who, for my young life, took care of me is now unable to take care of herself without assistance. The first time that I noticed this, I cried in the car as I drove home. My mother, who had given birth to me birth, who had fed me, clothed me and loved me, now could not at times carry out the basic life functions of cooking for herself or answering the phone properly.
While caregiving can be a rewarding experience that can strengthen the bond between you and your family, it can also be a stressful situation to navigate. Caregiver burnout or caregiver stress syndrome can happen quickly if you do not monitor your well-being. Being informed of symptoms is important for both a caregiver and the person they’re caring for.
Caregiver burnout symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Feeling worried or anxious
- Increased irritability
- Feelings of resentment
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling isolated or lonely
- Chronic headaches or bodily pain
Handling the Stress of Caretaking for an Elderly Parent
With the growing number of aging Americans, the need for caregivers for the elderly is growing. Home health care is a growing trend as the elderly wish to live in their homes, but need additional care from qualified home health care professionals or family members. Also, like in my mother's case, there are many families where one or both elderly parents live in the home with their adult children and are cared for on a day-to-day basis.
Caregiving may be one of the most important and challenging roles you’ll ever take on. No matter where you are in your caregiving journey — starting to plan; taking care of a family member in your home, in a facility, or from a distance; or managing end-of-life caregiving responsibilities — having resources at your fingertips will make the process easier.
Having logistical assistance when needed to help with the caregiving process is very important. For example, in the Asheville, NC, area, Loyal Lifts Transportation can provide safe and efficient transportation services for the elderly. Go to their website at www.loyallifts.com or call us at 828-674-6471 for more information.
However, even though enlisting local services to assist you in taking care of your aging parent is important, the fact that you are seeing your parent that has taken care of you now needs you to take care of them can be very stressful, and you need to take proactive steps to deal with this stress before it becomes too much for you to bear.
Five Ways to Handle the Stress of Caretaking an Elderly Parent
1. Set healthy caregiving boundaries: Boundaries allow you to be a heart-centered attentive, and compassionate caregiver that operates from a regenerated rather than depleted place.
2. Consider a support group: If you have the time and the means, you may need to utilize a therapist. You may need to go regularly, or you may only need to check in every once in a while to re-center, learn relevant coping skills, and establish the aforementioned boundaries.
3. Take advantage of respite care: You need a break. From the big-picture perspective, your self needs time to take care of yourself.
4. Ask for help and say, “Yes!” when help is offered: Utilize family members and professional caregivers as needed to assist you with the demands of caring for your elderly parent.
5. Focus on the small positives: There are times when the way may seem bleak, and that’s when you’ll want to shift your focus from the big to the little. Celebrate the small successes each day.
While caregiving can be a rewarding experience that can strengthen the bond between you and your family, it can also be a stressful situation to navigate. Full-time caregivers of elderly parents have a great weight on their shoulders. Thus, those taking care of elderly parents must prioritize their well-being by creating coping mechanisms that are healthy and sustainable.
Loyal Lifts Transportation Services
Loyal Lifts Transportation Services provides chauffeur quality, personal service in a custom, luxury upfitted vehicle custom designed to accommodate mobility issues and disability.
We go the extra mile with premium insurance coverage allowing us to take you beyond the sidewalk. Passengers can carry multiple bags (grocery, shopping, luggage), and if you need a wheelchair, we can provide one (upon request, as we do not carry it on every ride).
Contact us today to help relieve the stress of being a caretaker.