Updated August 3, 2022 – Caring for an elderly parent can be a difficult and demanding task, both emotionally and physically. In some cases, caregiving responsibilities can become a full-time job and may require you to give up your own life to some extent in order to care for senior adults.
If you’re in this situation, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as your parent, and to find a balance that works for both of you.
Why Is Taking Care Of An Aging Parent So Stressful?
There are a lot of reasons why taking care of your elderly parents can be so stressful.
For one, you might feel like you’re not doing enough to help them.
You might also worry about their health and well-being, and whether or not you’re able to provide them with the best possible care.
I went through these feelings when I became a part-time caregiver for my mom after her terminal cancer diagnosis. My dad was her primary caregiver, but neither he nor I had ever been through any type of training – we were just winging it and “putting out fires” as they happened.
I knew it was the right thing to help Mom live out her last days in the comfort of her own home, but I was also overwhelmed by the personal care she required. I worried, too, about whether Dad and I would make a mistake and do something that would further reduce her quality of life during her remaining time.
Caregivers are tasked with a seemingly endless to-do list: providing meals, administering medication, and offering mental stimulation and companionship. With a job description that broad and relentless, exhaustion seems inevitable.Fortune.com
Caregiving for older adults can also be more challenging if you have a difficult relationship with your parent. Throw a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease into the mix, and caregiving can make an already-strained relationship worse.
And, of course, family caregivers can simply become overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks of taking care of an aging parent.
All of these stressors can take a toll on both your mental health and your physical health. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to manage the stress of caregiving.
Here are a few tips:
1. Communicate with your parent. Talk about their needs and concerns, and let them know what you’re doing to help them. This can help reduce stress by making sure you’re both on the same page.
2. Find a support system. Whether it’s family, friends, or interacting in a caregiving support groups with others who are following a similar path, having people you can rely on can make a big difference.
3. Set boundaries. If your older parent is able to care for themselves but lives alone, it’s a good idea to set boundaries and schedules so that they are not making phone calls to you 5 times a day asking you to come over, take them shopping, etc.
4. Take care of your own needs. It’s important to take time for yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. Exercise, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep.
Self-care is any proactive activity – enjoyable or not – that strengthens our mind, body and soul and prepares us for a better future. As a caregiver, caring for yourself first and foremost is the single most important – and one of the most often neglected – things you can do. If you go down, your loved one goes down with you.seniorsmatter.com
5. Find ways to relax. Stress can be reduced by taking part in activities that help you relax, such as yoga or meditation, reading, crafting, and so forth.
When my mom napped in the afternoon, I propped my feet up and read a book instead of using the time to do housework or any of the myriad of things that constantly needed my attention. Just having that 30 minutes or so to myself brought a little calmness and peace of mind to my otherwise stressful day.
6. Seek professional help if needed. If you’re facing caregiver burnout and finding it difficult to cope with the stress of your parent’s care, don’t hesitate to seek out counseling or therapy.
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this. Many people find themselves in the same situation, and there are plenty of resources available to help you through it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to your doctor or a counselor. They can help you figure out how to best take care of your aging parent while still taking care of yourself.
Am I Obligated To Take Care Of My Parents?
This is a question that we often hear, and it’s one that doesn’t have a simple answer.
Legally speaking, if you live in any of the 29 states in the USA that have Filial Responsibility Laws, then you are obligated (by law) to care for your aging parents financially.
But morally, you may feel very different depending of course on your relationship with your parent(s).
Our relationship with our elders can be complex, and sometimes we still carry the burden of familial resentments long past. Our own lives may be wobbly, too, as we balance kids, work and friends and our own health on top of caregiving tasks.WebMD.com
For a variety of reasons, taking care of your parents can be a big responsibility and it’s not something to be taken lightly. But if you’re able to do it, and you’re willing to do it, then it can be a great way to show your love and appreciation for them.
You can read more about this in our article, Am I Responsible For My Elderly Parents?
What Happens To An Elderly Person With No Family?
Many seniors live alone and have to care for themselves simply because they have no one to help take care of them. And that may work well for a while, but the problems arise when the senior person can no longer live alone for any number of reasons.
In these cases, placement in an assisted living facility, a nursing home or some other type of senior care housing may be necessary. Unless of course the senior can afford to have a live-in caregiver who can provide home care in the elder’s home.
You can read more about this topic here.
Should You Quit Your Job To Care For An Elderly Parent?
Deciding whether or not you should quit your job to care for an elderly parent is a difficult decision. There are many factors to consider, including your work hours, your own financial stability and the needs of your parent.
If you are able to continue working while also providing care for your parent, that may be the best option. However, if you feel that you can no longer juggle both responsibilities, you may get some help from your employer or you may decide to leave your job.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Here, in the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job-protected, unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. Under the FMLA, you may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for a sick parent.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked at your company for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. In addition, your company must employ at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of your worksite.
If you are eligible for FMLA leave, you can use this leave to care for a parent with a serious health condition. A serious health condition is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an inpatient stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider.
If you need to take FMLA leave to care for a parent with a serious health condition, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. You will need to provide your employer with a certification from a health care provider that explains the serious health condition and why you need to take leave. Your employer may require you to submit additional information or documentation.
Once you have provided your employer with the required information, they must grant you FMLA leave. Your employer may not retaliate against you for taking FMLA leave.
Whatever you decide, it is important to communicate openly with your employer and your parent. Be sure to consider all of your options and make the decision that is best for everyone involved.
The Challenges Of Caregiving For Seniors
When it comes to taking care of seniors, there are a lot of challenges that come along with it. As we’ve established, whether you are caring for a parent, grandparent, or other relative, it can be a difficult task.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when you are considering taking on the role of caregiver.
**Your spouse needs to make the decision along with you. If they’re not on board with the idea, read our helpful guide about choosing between a spouse and elderly parents.
The first things to consider are the physical challenges that come along with taking care of a senior. Depending on the type of care and physical needs of your parent, you could be required to transfer them from a wheelchair to bed or to the toilet, and so on.
If you aren’t used to lifting heavy objects or cleaning up after someone, this can be a difficult adjustment. Without proper training, there is also the chance that you could hurt yourself (or them) by lifting or moving them wrong,
There are also the emotional challenges that come along with being a caregiver. It can be hard to see your loved one in pain or struggling with their health. It’s important to be patient and understand that as much as you are having a hard time caring for them, this is a difficult time for them to go through, as well.
Another thing to consider is the financial burden that comes along with being a caregiver. If you are not used to budgeting your own money, it can be difficult to take on the additional expense of caring for someone else.
There are many financial resources available to help you with the cost of caregiving, but it is important to be prepared for the possibility that you’ll have to spend more money than you are used to.
It is also important to consider your own mental and physical health when taking on the role of caregiver. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the caregiving burden and the demands of caring for someone else. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well as your senior loved one.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed, there are many resources available to help you cope with the challenges of caregiving.
- If you have siblings, the first step is to call a family meeting and ask for help. Often, people are willing to help, they just aren’t sure of what you need them to do. You can read more about this topic here.
- Look into respite care – which is where your loved one would be taken care of during the day (adult daycare) or, in some cases, they can be cared for on a temporary basis in a long-term care facility.
- Joining an in-person or online support group can help with stress by giving you emotional support and providing tips for managing stress, along with helpful ideas surrounding the various aspects of caregiving.
In the end, the decision of whether or not to take on the role of caregiver is a personal one. There is no right or wrong answer, and each situation is unique.
The most important thing is to make sure that you are prepared for the challenges that come with caregiving, and that you are taking care of yourself as well.
Emotional Effects Of Caring For An Elderly Parent
Caring for an elderly parent can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a stressful one. This is true even if you and your parent have a good relationship. So, it’s important to be prepared for the emotional challenges that come along with this type of caregiving.
Here are some of the most common emotions you may feel while caring for an elderly parent:
Guilt: You may feel guilty about not being able to do more for your parent or about not being able to be there as much as you’d like. This is normal. Try to remember that you’re doing the best you can and that your parent appreciates everything you’re doing.
Anger: It’s common to feel angry while caring for an elderly parent. You may be angry at your parent for needing so much help or at yourself for not being able to do more. It’s important to find healthy ways to express this anger.
Frustration: Caring for an elderly parent can be frustrating. You may feel like you’re constantly doing things you don’t want to do or that you’re not being appreciated. It’s important to find ways to deal with this frustration in a healthy way.
Loneliness: Caring for a parent can be a lonely experience. You may feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to or that no one understands what you’re going through. It’s important to find ways to connect with other people who are in similar situations.
Stress: Caring for an elderly parent can be stressful. You may feel like you’re never doing enough or that you’re always worrying about your parent’s health. It’s important to find ways to manage your stress in a healthy way.
How Do You Let Go Of Resentment Taking Care Of Elderly Parents?
It’s common to feel resentment when taking care of an elderly parent. After all, you have your own life to live, and it can be tough to see your parent getting older and needing more help.
But just because it’s common doesn’t make it right. Here are a few tips for letting go of that resentment:
Talk to your parents about your feelings.
It can be tough to talk about sensitive subjects, but it’s important to communicate with your parents about how you’re feeling. They may not be aware of the resentment you’re carrying, and simply having a conversation can help to diffuse the situation.
Try to see things from their perspective.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and forget that our parents are people too. They’re going through their own aging process, and they may need our help just as much as we need theirs. Try to empathize with their situation and be understanding.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to set boundaries. This may mean saying no to certain requests, or it could mean asking for help from other family members or friends. Be assertive in communicating your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
Seek professional help.
If you’re struggling to cope with the situation, it may be helpful to seek professional help. You can talk to your doctor, a social worker, or a counselor. A therapist can provide you with support and guidance, and they can also offer strategies for dealing with difficult situations.
You can also find helpful information online or in books about caregiving.
Whatever you decide, remember that you are not alone and that there is help available if you reach out.
Sometimes caregiving can feel as if you are giving up your life for the care recipient (and in some respects, you are!). If you are feeling overwhelmed or like you are not up to the task, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to caregivers, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to do this alone.