When we’re young, we rely on our parents for almost everything; our clothes, shelter, meals, and daily care. Throughout our lives, we rely on our parents less and less – eventually becoming independent adults. Since this is a natural progression, the transitions come pretty easily. When our parents become older, however, we might find ourselves thrust into a new role – one we’re unprepared for.
Caring for aging parents is difficult for many reasons. Watching our parents grow vulnerable and dependent is painful – even scary. If circumstances allow the adult children (or grandchildren) to be the primary caregivers, transitioning into that role can be emotionally challenging.
Providing care for our parents, whether it lasts a few months or several years, involves major change. Being a family caregiver includes making complicated decisions, adjusting schedules, allocating responsibilities – just to name a few. Thankfully, there are ways you can successfully make the transition.
1. Discuss Caregiving with Your Parents
Talking with your parents is an important first step, but you need to do it early – before an imminent need arises. Seniors are much more likely to accept care decisions when they are physically and mentally healthy.
Have an honest discussion with your parent or grandparent, and carefully listen to their thoughts and feelings. Don’t rush the conversation, and don’t dominate it. Express your ideas - emphasizing the benefits for your parent, and speak with respect. It may not be easy for your parents to accept your role as caregiver, so be patient and understanding.
2. Involve the Entire Family
Caregiving works best when the entire family is actively involved. Understandably, cooperating with siblings is not always a piece of cake. Caring for elderly parents can bring out the worst in your siblings – and you. Family meetings can often erupt in heated arguments, with your parent’s best interests forgotten.
Try and put childhood rivalries and petty disagreements aside, and work together calmly. Communicate regularly, and keep discussions open but respectful. A united team of siblings will benefit everyone, especially your parents.
3. Reach Out for Help
Outside the world of paid work, the people most prone to burnout are caregivers. A new study from Concordia University, AMI-Québec and the University of British Columbia has found family caregivers can experience high levels of stress, self-blame, substance abuse and depressive symptoms - unless they refocus their priorities and lighten their load.
It’s a natural tendency for everyone to think they can do everything themselves. Even when deep down they recognize that they are burning out, it can be incredibly challenging to reach out and ask for help. Finding an alternative homecare solution does not mean the family caregiver has failed in any way. It simply means they are bringing in another caregiver to assist them and ensure their parents are getting the best possible care.
Working with an agency that offers ClearCare’s exceptional homecare software is the smartest decision a family caregiver can make. This easy-to-use software gives families real-time visibility to their parent’s daily care. Even if you can’t physically be there for your parent 24/7, ClearCare makes it possible for you to feel as if you are. Transitioning into the role of family caregiver will be much easier when you have this kind of support.