Caring for parents or an elderly relative can impact your life emotionally and physically. According to a study by Evercare, contributing 20 or more hours per week for caregiving may result in health problems for you, including headaches, pain, and a decline in appetite or sleep quality.
Balancing work, life, and caregiving can add pressure and stress during an already emotional time. How can you mitigate the stress and positively influence your health?
Get Everyone on Board
Schedule family meetings to discuss everyone’s responsibilities. Explain that caring for parents is not simply a duty, it is a privilege, as well. Ask everyone to volunteer to take on chores. This helps ensure that you have time to rest and rejuvenate. Asking others for help is not being selfish; it gives them a chance to contribute, and to feel good about it.
Talk honestly with your boss, too. Explain that you may need time to take your loved one to a doctor’s appointment or for other needs. Most employers are accommodating if you are honest about your situation.
Carry a small notebook with you. Write down the schedules of your parent as well as those of your family members. Do this when the appointment is scheduled. With so much on your plate, it is easy to forget this step. Use a large calendar in your home that lists everyone’s schedules to keep them informed. These habits help free up your mind and eliminate stress.
Enlist Outside Help
At times, it’s impossible to care for your loved one and still take care of all of your other responsibilities. Although it may be agonizing to think of asking someone else to care for your parent — even as a temporary measure — it may be necessary.
If you work, a visiting nurse or an adult day care center may be good options. There may come a time, however, when you realize that you cannot adequately care for your loved one, whether they live independently or in your home. This results in role reversal — placing you as the parent figure by making a life-changing decision for the senior. The decision to move your parent to an assisted living facility or a nursing home doesn’t come easily, particularly if your loved one doesn’t want to go. It may fill you with angst, guilt, and sadness, and perhaps a feeling of failure.
Discuss your options with a patient advocate or a geriatric care manager, and make sure to include your parent. Coming to a decision together will help ease the transition to assisted care.
With all life throws at you, it may be difficult to balance all your realities and blessings in a healthy way. Being prepared helps ensure that you and your loved one can enjoy your time together.