It’s not easy to know what to do when your aging parent’s care requirements escalate.
If you’re struggling to be their caregiver, don’t be too hard on yourself! Even the most experienced family caregivers eventually need professional help caring for loved ones.
It might be difficult to serve as a caregiver for an elderly parent or family member.
The amount of time needed, as well as the emotional burden and specialized medical attention your loved one may require, is enormous.
It’s critical to be realistic about how much care you can give to your parent, especially when you recognize that you are no longer able.
It’s important to recognize your own limits and the needs of the care recipient.
How To Tell When You Can No Longer Care For An Elderly Parent
There are some signs that may indicate it’s time to acknowledge that you can no longer care for an older parent and to get outside help.
These can include:
- Caregiver burnout and/or compassion fatigue. You feel overwhelmed, exhausted or stressed out from trying to care for your parent on your own.
- You begin having difficulty managing them (i.e., giving them a bath, dealing with emotional outbursts, etc.)
- Their health issues are severe enough that they require 24-hour attention.
- They become combative either physically and/or emotionally.
- You are unable to manage taking care of their house and your house.
- You don’t have the time or resources to provide adequate care for yourself and/or your own family.
If you’re seeing any of these signs, it may be time to start looking into professional home care services.
These services can provide your elderly parent with the assistance they need to stay safe and healthy in their own home.
This is especially true if you are caring for someone who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Folks outside nursing facilities living with dementia are most likely to rely on multiple unpaid caregivers, who are often family members. Thirty percent of older adults with dementia rely on three or more unpaid caregivers, according to the Alzheimer’s report. Only 23 percent without dementia do so.newstribune.com
Making the decision to move an elderly parent into a nursing home can be difficult, but it may be the best option if you are no longer able to provide the level of care they need and deserve.
Nursing homes can offer a good quality of life for seniors, with experienced staff who can help them with their daily needs.
Of course, the other options may include moving to an assisted living community or to a nursing home, depending on your parent’s medical condition and the level of care they require.
If possible, talk to your parents and other family members about what kind of help they think would be best, and then start doing some research on your own.
There are a lot of great care services available, so you’re sure to find one that meets your needs and budget.
Signs Of Caregiver Stress (aka Caregiver Burnout)
If you’re a caregiver, it’s important to be aware of the signs of caregiver stress.
These signs can include avoiding the senior loved one, anger, fatigue, depression, impaired sleep, poor health, irritability, or that terrible sense that there is “no light at the end of the tunnel.”
That’s a very dark place to be and honestly, it’s been my experience that when you are in such a state, it’s difficult to make smart decisions about most anything.
So basically, if you are in the throes of caregiver burnout, you aren’t able to properly care for your elderly parent.
I strongly recommend that you take a step back, assess the situation and if possible, get some respite help.
This might mean hiring outside help to come in and give you a break or even finding a long-term care facility that can provide the level of care your elderly parent needs.
Of course, if it’s possible you can also spread the caregiving duties amongst family members.
But, if you are the only one available or if you live the closest, then you might have to shoulder the majority of the burden.
Caregiving can be an extremely rewarding experience. But, it can also be very challenging and difficult.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and don’t feel guilty about taking a break when you can.
Can You Get PTSD From Caregiving?
Caring for a family member or friend can also be associated with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
As I have been saying, it’s important to take care of yourself and recognize the signs of burnout or stress related to your caregiving responsibilities.
Common signs of PTSD in caregivers include feelings of fear, guilt, anger, and depression. Other symptoms may include difficulty sleeping, feeling overwhelmed or isolated, and difficulty concentrating.
If you think that you might be experiencing any of these symptoms due to caregiving-related stress or burnout, it’s important to talk to someone.
A mental health professional can provide support and guidance.
They might suggest techniques like relaxation exercises or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can help reduce your stress levels and improve your emotional well-being.
Remember: even though being a caregiver is difficult to work, it’s important to take care of yourself first so that you can provide the best possible care for your loved ones.
And if you can no longer do that without being angry, depressed, or dealing with the signs of burnout that we’ve been discussing, it’s time to consider other care options for your loved one.
Solutions For Caregiver Burnout
Here are 7 quick solutions for you to begin taking right away if you are experiencing caregiver stress (burnout).
- Hire a professional caregiver to give you a break
- Find a caregiving support group
- Arrange for respite care
- Take advantage of technology to stay connected with your elderly parent
- Get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet
- Make time for yourself every day
- Seek professional help (i.e. a counselor or therapist) if you are struggling to cope with caregiver burnout
There are a number of resources available to help family caregivers take a break from their elderly parent’s care. These include:
Respite Care: Respite care is temporary care provided to elderly parents while their regular caregivers take a break.
This can be arranged through home health agencies, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities.
It is important to make sure that respite care providers are properly trained and have experience caring for elderly parents.
Adult Day Services: Adult day services are programs that provide daytime care for elderly parents outside of the home.
These programs offer activities and socialization opportunities, as well as meals and snacks.
They can be a great option for caregivers who need to take a break during the day.
Geriatric Care Managers: Geriatric care managers are professionals who provide consultation and support to caregivers of elderly parents.
They can help with everything from finding care services to providing emotional support.
Support Groups: There are many support groups available for caregivers of elderly parents.
These groups provide a space to share experiences and connect with other caregivers who understand what you’re going through.
Are You Obligated To Take Care Of Your Parents?
The decision to take care of elderly parents is a personal one. You may feel like it’s your duty, or you may want to do it out of love and respect.
But here in the USA, the laws regarding caring for one’s parents vary depending on where you live.
In the U.S., requiring that children care for their elderly parents is a state-by-state issue. Some states mandate that financially able children support impoverished parents or just specific healthcare needs. Other states don’t require an obligation from the children of older adults.Stowellassociates.com
The legal obligations don’t refer to hands-on caregiving. They refer to financial care. They’re known as Filial Responsibility Laws.
Currently (2022) – there are 29 states plus territories in the USA with these laws on the books.
These states are…
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The laws require that children financially support their parents when the parents are unable to do so themselves.
There are a few exceptions to these laws.
If the child is a minor, if the parent is not disabled or elderly, or if the child can prove they would suffer financial hardship, then they may not be required to provide support.
If you live in any of these states I recommend that you speak with an elder law attorney about what your rights are as an adult child of an aging parent.
Can I Be Forced To Pay For My Parents’ Care?
The Filial Responsibility Laws are not often enforced but they certainly can be.
As more and more adults are living longer and running out of funds, the states with these laws may begin enforcing them to avoid having to use state funds to pay for their care.
At least that’s what it seems likely to happen, in my opinion.
Can You Abandon Your Elderly Parents?
Abandoning an elderly parent is a crime. It’s considered to be a form of elder abuse. But each state in the USA has different sets of laws for this crime.
In some states, like Florida, the penalty for abandoning an elderly person is up to 15 years in prison.
Other states have similar laws that make it a felony punishable by imprisonment and/or fines to abandon an elderly person.
Elder abandonment is generally defined as the purposeful and permanent desertion of an elderly person. The victim may be left at a hospital, a nursing home, or in a public location.Findlaw.com
It can also be defined as neglecting their basic needs or failing to provide them with the necessary care they need to live safely and comfortably.
The Administration on Aging defines elder abuse as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.Administration for Community Living
So abandoning someone is not the solution to the problem.
The answer is simply to find another person or persons to take over or at the very least contribute help to the job of caring for the older adult.
Why Would Someone Refuse To Care For Their Elderly Parent?
There are many reasons why someone might refuse to care for their elderly parent.
It could be that they don’t have the time or resources to provide adequate care, or they may feel overwhelmed and unprepared for the challenge.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that refusing to care for an elderly parent is not a solution.
There are many options available for those who need help caring for an elderly loved one, so there is no need to feel overwhelmed or helpless.
If you’re feeling lost, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
There are many resources available for caregivers, and you aren’t alone in this process.
What To Do If You Can’t Care For Your Elderly Parent Anymore
It can be extremely difficult to cope when you can no longer care for your elderly parents.
Here are a few ways to help make the situation easier:
- Talk to your parents’ doctor and ask for a referral to a nursing home or assisted living facility. This can help take some of the burdens off of you and ensure that your parents are getting the care they need.
- Talk to a Geriatric Care Manager. They can help you to find the kind of help your senior loved one needs.
- Have a family meeting and talk to other family members and see if anyone is able to help out with caregiving duties. Having a support system can make a big difference.
- Join a caregiver support group. There are often groups available through local hospitals or online. This can be a great way to connect with other caregivers and get some much-needed support.
- Make sure to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. This is a difficult situation, so it’s important to take care of yourself as well. Consider talking to a therapist or counselor if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
The type of living arrangements that are available for an aging person include:
Nursing Homes: Nursing homes are one option available to elderly parents who can no longer be cared for at home.
Nursing homes provide around-the-clock care from trained professionals. Medical care is also provided.
This can be a good option for elderly parents who need constant supervision and care.
However, nursing homes can be expensive, and they may not offer the same level of personal care and attention that your elderly parent would receive at home.
Assisted Living Facilities: Assisted living facilities are another option available to elderly parents who can no longer be cared for at home.
Assisted living facilities provide a more independent living situation than nursing homes, but they still offer some level of care and assistance.
Home Health Aides: Home health aides are professionals who visit elderly parents in their homes to provide care and assistance.
This can be a great option for elderly parents who want to remain in their own homes, but who still need some help with daily activities.
Home health aides can assist with things like bathing, dressing, and grooming, as well as providing medication reminders, checking in on elderly parents’ health, and preparing meals.
Home health aides can be hired privately or through a home health agency.
Only you and your family can decide which type of care can provide the best care for your aging parents.
Whichever option can give you some peace of mind would be the one to consider.
Financing Elderly Parent’s Care
Many adult children are finding themselves having to help their elderly parents financially to pay for monthly expenses. This is especially true if the parent(s) are aging in place.
Here are some tips that you can take if you find yourself in this situation.
- The first step is to have a conversation with your elderly parent(s) about their monthly income and expenses. This will give you a better idea of what, if any, financial assistance they may need.
- A home equity line of credit or a reverse mortgage are two possibilities. Another option is to use long-term care insurance. This type of insurance can help pay for in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care.
- If the elderly parent does not have enough income to cover their monthly expenses, they may be eligible for government assistance programs, such as Medicaid.
- It is important to understand all of the options available before making any decisions. Speak with a financial advisor and/or an elder law attorney to get more information.
But if you come to the conclusion that your elderly parent needs to be either in an assisted living or a nursing home, the next step then is how to finance it.
These facilities can be expensive and many people do not have the financial resources to cover the cost.
There are a few ways to finance elderly parent’s care:
- Medicare: Medicare is a government-run health insurance program that covers certain long-term care expenses. However, it does not cover the full cost of nursing home care.
- Medicaid: Medicaid is a government-run health insurance program that helps low-income individuals and families pay for medical expenses. It covers the full cost of nursing home care.
- Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-Term Care Insurance is a type of insurance that covers the cost of long-term care.
- Reverse Mortgage: A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows elderly homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes. The loan does not have to be repaid until the homeowner dies or sells the home.
- Personal Savings: Personal savings can be used to pay for elderly parents’ care. However, this may not be an option for everyone. Some families may have to pool their monies together.
Money, specifically a lack of it, can be a large source of stress when caring for elderly parents. Rest assured that you are not alone in this situation.
According to the most recent data from the AARP, an estimated 41.8 million people, or 16.8 percent of the population, currently provides care for an adult over 50. That’s up from 34.2 million (14.3 percent) in 2015.Of those caregivers, 28 percent have stopped saving, 23 percent have taken on more debt, 22 percent have used up their personal short-term savings, and 11 percent reported being unable to cover basic needs, including food. The average age of someone providing care for an adult is 49, but 23 percent are millennials and 6 percent are Gen Z. Sixty-one percent are women, and 40 percent provide that care within their own homes, up from 34 percent in 2015.Vox.com
What Happens If An Elderly Person Has No One To Care For Them?
If an elderly person doesn’t have any family members or friends to care for them, they may need to go into a nursing home.
Nursing homes provide around-the-clock care and assistance with activities of daily living.
While nursing homes can be expensive, they may be the best option for elderly people who can no longer take care of themselves.
It’s important to research various nursing homes and compare their costs and services before making a decision.
How To Tell Your Family That You Can’t Care For Your Elderly Parent Any More
When you can no longer care for an elderly parent, it can be difficult to know what to do. But don’t worry – with a plan in place, you can get the support you need and ensure that your elderly parent is taken care of.
Here are five steps to follow:
Make your case: Write down and explain to your family the reasons why this current situation is simply not feasible any longer. Be honest and practical.
Some reasons might be:
- Your elderly parent’s needs have become too great: Your elderly parent’s needs are becoming too complex.
- Safety for yourself and your senior parent: The job of caregiving can involve lifting someone, transferring them from bed to a wheelchair, etc. If you are unable to do this safely, then you are endangering yourself and your parent.
- Caregiving is impacting your work: If your job is being threatened because of your caregiving duties then it’s time to hand that role over to someone else.
- The caregiving role has taken a toll on your physical and mental health: You are exhausted and stressed out, and this is negatively impacting your health.
- You can’t afford to continue caring for your elderly parent: The financial costs of caregiving have become too great, and you can no longer afford it.
- Your elderly parent doesn’t want you to be their caregiver: They would rather receive care from a professional than have you sacrifice your own life to take care of them.
- You are simply not the best person for the job: There are other people who are better equipped to care for your elderly parent than you are.
- It’s time to let someone else take over the caregiving role: You need to focus on taking care of yourself, and that means finding someone else to care for your elderly parent.
Expect disagreement: You should know ahead of time that not everyone is going to be sympathetic to your plight. Expect some pushback.
Knowing that your family (and perhaps a senior parent) may disagree with you and argue with you can help you to begin forming some responses to what they may say.
Otherwise, I think the best solution would be to have a social worker or geriatric care manager with you during this conversation to help.
Expect to have more than one conversation: You will most likely have to have this conversation multiple times so I would recommend that you establish a cut-off date.
Let your family know that 3 months from now (as an example) you will be resigning as the primary caregiver. Make sure to give an exact date and time.
Have some solutions ready: It’s one thing to present a problem but conversations always go better when solutions are presented as well. Of course, be flexible to accept other solution ideas as well.
Finding Someone To Take Over Care For An Elderly Parent
It’s not an easy task to find just the right person to help you take care of your aging parent(s).
You want to make sure they’re in good hands, but you may not have a lot of family or friends nearby who are able to step in and help out.
And even if you do, they may not be available when you need them the most.
One option is to hire a professional caregiver. This can be an individual person or a home care agency.
There are pros and cons to each option, so it’s important to do your research and choose the one that will best meet your needs.
If you decide to go with an individual caregiver, make sure they are bonded and insured.
This will protect you financially if anything should happen while they are caring for your parent.
You will also want to check references and do a background check.
A home care agency will have caregivers who are employees of the agency.
The agency will be responsible for running background checks and making sure the caregivers are bonded and insured. They will also typically provide training for their caregivers.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to communicate your expectations to the caregiver.
Discuss your parent’s daily routine, their medical needs, and any other important information. Be sure to leave contact information in case of an emergency.
Having someone to help care for your elderly parent can take a lot of stress off of you. It will allow you to take a break and recharge, knowing that your parent is in good hands.
Some Helpful Books
A book filled with practical advice on how family caregivers can maneuver through the challenges of caregiving for another person.
Learn how to not lose yourself in your role as a caregiver and when to let go.
The simple truth is you will not be able to effectively and safely care for another person if you don’t first care for yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing caregiving to consume you.