Resources to Assist Complications of Family Caregiving
Learning strategies for coping with aging behaviors is important. External resources, combined with enhanced understanding for your elderly parents will increase the likelihood that the time you spend with your parents will be meaningful, appreciated, and peaceful.
- Expert help. A geriatric care manager, or perhaps a social worker, can help you sort through the issues and provide mediation if it’s hard for you to communicate with your aging parents. These professionals also can help the family access support services for the comfort and benefit of your elderly parents.
- Family counselor. Sometimes thoughtful, objective communication is clouded by old issues that had been pushed to the back of our minds. A skilled therapist can equip you with coping tools, and a better understanding of yourself and your past relationship with your parents.
- Communication. Discuss with you parents what you are able to do, willing to do, and when you will be available to do it. Set boundaries and ground rules. I have witnessed many scenarios where the son or daughter is completely disrespected by the parent. The elderly parent(s) is demanding of the nearby family, who is expected to handle all the care and planning. This demand can be very difficult to navigate. Sometimes honest communication will improve what has been a dysfunctional dynamic.
- Encourage new endeavors and social outlets. Perhaps disability or the passing away of old friends has isolated your parent. Perhaps your parent has re-located to be nearer to you, but doesn’t know many people. Do some simple research. Call your local senior centers, or the local aging services department and other social opportunities for seniors in your area.
- Lighten your load. Are you doing it all alone when you don’t have to? Can your siblings, your children, nieces, nephews and other relatives pitch in? How can others help? By staying with Mom when you need to attend a daughter’s soccer game? By having Dad visit for part of the year with your sister’s family? By sharing the cost of home care services?
- Hire professional care. If your parent’s care needs are substantial, living in a nursing home or other supportive living situation might be the best choice. If your parent lives at home or with you, professional in-home care can be a lifesaver! In-home caregivers can cut down on the sheer workload, providing housekeeping and laundry services and preparing nutritious meals for your parent. They can perform those emotionally difficult intimate tasks such as bathing, toileting and grooming. They can provide transportation to doctor appointments. The caregiver is a new person in your parent’s life.