The medical industry has been making significant strides in keeping people healthier and developing new treatments for injuries and diseases. The result is people living much longer than they used to a few decades ago. However, everyone ages and needs help with different things when they do. With people living longer, more people are becoming caregivers.
Becoming a caregiver is a crucial calling because you will be responsible for providing the help your loved one requires. Before making this decision, there are a few things you should consider.
Are You Prepared for the Challenge?
Many people become caregivers since they feel they have a duty to help their parents. However, a sizable number are not prepared for the emotions and physical stress caregiving involves, with the responsibility being a challenge for even the strongest people.
Depending on their needs, you may find yourself doing a lot of physical tasks like assisting them to sit and stand or ensuring they can get up and down stairs safely. You will also be responsible for making sure they take the right medication at the right time.
Caregiving is Time-consuming
Caring for a loved one takes a significant amount of time. You will also have to adjust your schedule so that it is in sync with theirs, and some things you will need to do will have a higher precedence than what you wanted to do. Lastly, consider how these decisions will affect your children and partner.
You will have to create a schedule that accommodates everyone, with the understanding that emergencies can come up and disrupt even the best plans. Find ways to take care of yourself so you do not experience the burnout many caregivers do.
Would Assisted Living Be a Better Option?
It is difficult asking a parent to move to assisted living because such a move comes with a lot of emotion, with some parents feeling as though their children want to abandon them. However, there are some situations where an assisted living facility would be a better option.
If you are no longer able to commit enough time each week or month to see your parents, this could be a great option for everyone. You will know they are not alone so they will not feel isolated and lonely. You also know they are getting the care and love they deserve from trained staff and have a community of their peers around them at all times.
Assisted living is also a good option if you are no longer able to meet a loved one’s needs. For example, they may need assistance with daily tasks, and you might be able to be there every day to assist. A reputable long term assisted living facility gives you peace of mind in knowing they are getting the assistance they need when they need it.
Do You Have Access to Support?
Caregivers require support, so finding a group will be helpful. The people in it will listen to you, advise you, help you with some coping strategies, and provide a hand if you need one. If they are unavailable, you can also find help through other caregivers. They have been where you are and will understand what you are going through and require.
Some caregivers try to do everything themselves, not stopping to think about what would happen if they ever got sick and their parent needed them.
To find a support group, start with online research. There are bound to be a few in your area or a few minutes away.
Balance Your Work and Duty
Many companies now let their employees work from home or anywhere else. This is vastly advantageous for caregivers who need to be around their loved ones for multiple hours. However, some people are not fortunate enough to have such jobs. If you are in the latter group, you must find a balance between your job and caregiver duties.
Perhaps you could talk to your employer to let them know what is happening so they understand if you arrive late, need to leave early, or miss a day of work to take a loved one to the hospital. You may also have situations where you can only be reached by phone or cannot travel for work or business.
Open, honest, and candid conversations work best so you can both find a solution. Remember, you can always take leave using the Family and Medical Leave Act. This act requires all employers who are covered to ensure job protection and unpaid leave for employees who need to take time away for family and medical reasons.
Learn About Caregiving Using Different Resources
Unless you are a professional, you likely do not know much about caregiving and the different issues that can come up. However, there is always space for learning, and numerous online resources can help.
It is best to go with the ones provided by medical professionals so you know you are getting accurate information. Learn about the different illnesses and injuries that affect the elderly, the early symptoms to watch for, and the actions to take when various issues arise so you know how to help your parent.
Lastly, keep a professional’s contact information close. While it is great to learn as much as you can about caregiving, you might need the help of an experienced professional in some cases.
Can You Identify Behavioral Changes?
Since you have lived with them your whole life, you know your parent very well. This makes it much easier to identify any behavioral changes. These changes may be due to old age or dementia. They may also change from time to time due to feeling frustrated with themselves and aging and may have nothing to do with you.
It is helpful to find out what triggers these behaviors so you can help them as they go through them. Understanding the triggers will also make it much easier to remember that what they say or do might have nothing to do with you, which will put you in a better mindset to assist.
Becoming a caregiver is noble as you know you are ensuring your parent has the care and love they need. However, it comes with some challenges that you should consider beforehand. You should also learn what they are going through to ensure you can provide the level and type of assistance they need.