Over the last several decades, many homes have experienced significant changes in the family dynamic, due in large part to the more extended life expectancies to which we have grown accustomed. With Americans living well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond, many children find themselves becoming a caregiver, or like a parent, to their own parents.
Caring for a parent is a challenging and often exhausting responsibility. For some this requires frequent, even daily, visits to ensure your parent is cared for and does not feel too lonely. For others care means taking on the role of financier: managing all of the expenses and researching and maintaining a long-term financial plan. For others still, caring for a parent requires an in-depth review of medical needs and the insurance required to address them.
To help the caregivers who give so much to their parents, we spoke with the Crittenton Home Care staff. They have shared their top five pieces of advice to help those who are caring for a parent, also take care of themselves.
Caregiver tip #1: Prioritize quality time with your parents.
It’s not uncommon that most of your interactions with your parents are all business; even social visits are a part of your caregiving plan and thus, a part of your agenda. It is because of this that many caregivers forget to place a high level of importance on time spent with their loved one without wearing that caregiver hat.
It is easiest to do this if you have help from others. A sibling or friend may be able to volunteer a few hours to take care of the caregiver responsibilities, allowing you to focus your attention once again as a child to the parent, and enjoy the blessed time you have together. If you do not have help, Crittenton Home Care offers extremely flexible care options to help you. Something as simple as a helper to come a few times a week to help your parent shower may give you the time you need.
Caregiver tip #2: Setup a meeting with a financial advisor.
Unless your career or background is in the financial industry, the majority of caregivers benefit from a visit to a finance expert. For children caring for their parents, a very real part of this responsibility is managing a parent’s finances. Medical bills, insurance billing, and budgeting for rent, groceries, medicine and other regularly incurred expenses can easily become an overwhelming task for children. A financial planner can set up a long term plan for your parent’s finances while also helping with questions like whether you are eligible to claim your parent as a dependent on your tax return.
Caregiver tip #3: Ask for help.
Our Crittenton Home Care staff says that this tip, while seemingly obvious, is often one of the hardest to follow. Creating a care plan with your parents and siblings well in advance is the best approach to create balanced responsibilities for everyone. Often though, the task of caring for a parent can fall to just one person. If this is the case, the best advice we can give is to ask for help, says Kathy Andrews, an RN with Crittenton Home Care. “Ask family, ask friends or contact us. Even just a few hours a day of help for a loved one in need can make all the difference.”
Caregiver tip #4: Do not be afraid to enlist the help of your children.
Experiencing an aging grandparent can be a life changing experience. It may be their first personal experience with the aging process, but your children can be a source of support to you as well. From small things like helping to clean up, to providing care for a younger sibling themselves, your children can help to lighten the load. Consider also that this provides your children the opportunity to cherish the precious time they have with their grandparents. Encouraging your children to be open about their feelings can also help build upon your own relationship.
Caregiver tip #5: Learn how Home Care can help.
Home care services are flexible, trusting, and affordable care for your loved ones. Home care is a viable option to keep your parent in his or her own home with support or to assist you as the primary caregiver. In many cases after a hospital stay, your insurance company covers the cost of home care. If the responsibility of caring for your parent is falling on you, consider if home care is an option.
Finally, remember that while caring for a parent can be a challenging and demanding job, it is also a beautiful opportunity for children to build a closer and more intimate relationship with their parents. If you have any questions about home care services, please contact Crittenton Home Care at 248-656-6757 or send us a message.