You may have expected that at some point in your life you would be caring for your aging parents. But did you imagine doing it during your own retirement years? As people are living longer than ever before, many children are finding themselves aging alongside their parents.
If you find yourself in this situation, it most likely has come as a surprise. Rather than spending your time leisurely, your days are filled with appointments, errands, and tasks required to keep your parents safe and independent at home. They may even be living with you, which makes caring for them a round-the-clock responsibility with very few breaks. You may have the time, but do you have the physical and mental energy required to be a caregiver at this stage of your life?
Caregiving can be challenging work. It might be much more difficult than the paid work that you chose as a career. Although it has its rewards, caregiving can also take its toll on you if you’re not prepared for what’s involved. You may have your own health concerns already and if not, you don’t want to become sick as a result of taking care of someone else, even if it is a loved one.
What can you do if you’re caring for a parent in your sixties or seventies? Here are five tips:
Hold a family meeting.
Let everyone know what the current situation looks like and what is involved in caring for the family member. Oftentimes, people are unaware of the requirements of keeping someone safe at home.
Ask for everyone, especially the younger grandchildren or nieces and nephews, to participate in taking care of the person you all love. Explain that although you’re retired, you can’t take on 100% of the responsibility, nor should it land solely on your shoulders.
Have a Plan B.
Make sure you have a contingency plan in place should something happen to you. In that case, who will take care of your parent? If they're currently living with you, where will they live if something happens to you? You don’t want to think of the worst-case scenario, but it’s not uncommon for caregivers to become ill themselves. In fact, 30% of all caregivers die before the person they're caring for. It's a sobering statistic.
Look in the community for resources.
Is there a day program where your mom or dad could go three times a week? Is there a senior’s center with a lunch program that they could attend? Find our what’s available and make use of it.
Don’t feel guilty for saying no to taking on a full-time job of caregiving. Create a schedule that includes time for your own pastimes and stick to it. Balance will be key.
Life is full of twists and turns and caregiving in your later years may be one of those unexpected twists. Facing it head on with a plan that puts you first will help ensure you will succeed at helping your parents over the long-term.
Questions? Need help with an elderly loved one's care? Truhlsen Elder Care Law of Nebraska is here for you. Just give us a call at 402.426.8877.