Caring for an older adult, particularly a parent, can be extremely stressful. The needs of your parent have a tendency to get placed before your own and the self-care you would typically provide for yourself get pushed aside and puts a strain on important relationships. In this current generation of adult children caring for their parents, a majority are children with full or part-time jobs whose work performances are affected by their caregiving. Time constraints may prevent them from accepting a promotion or making it to a meeting on time or going to a holiday party. Many seniors being cared for by their children need assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) which include routine tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, or running errands. Children may also need to coordinate doctor’s appointments, monitor medication all the while providing financial and emotional support for their parents.
In addition to the financial and emotional strain that comes along with caregiving, taking care of a parent can also cause relational strain. Caring for an aging parent can put a strain on a romantic relationship, the relationships with the caregivers own children, and the relationship with the parent. Young children often have a hard time understanding that their grandparents need help and may harbor resentment for them and even if the child does understand, an aging senior more than likely requires a lot of time and attention and the adult child may miss out on bonding time with their own kids.
At some point, the question often becomes “when do I find time for myself?” or “how do I balance caring for my parents, my family, and myself?” The burden of care carried by family caregivers brings about stressors that lead to adult children asking these questions and more. Many people have a tendency to put an unreasonable amount of pressure on themselves; they don’t like to ask for help because they want to be able to take care of the people they hold closest. Caregiving related stress can cause a person to withdraw and let go of the responsibility they have to care for themselves. One might stop engaging in activities they used to enjoy in favor of trying to complete the endless amount of tasks that come along with having a family and taking care of another person.
While the thought of asking for help might make one feel guilty or inadequate, it’s important to remember that in order to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself too. As mentioned earlier, the needs of the family caregiver are often overlooked or ignored in favor of the needs of their parents or others. Hiring an in-home caregiver to help carry some of the load can ease stress and help to heal the relationships that had been previously strained or neglected.
In-home caregivers allow aging seniors to remain in their homes and provide a sense of independence and autonomy. Relieving the stress of the family caregiver also allows them to focus on their own well-being, their relationships, and their children. Even if it’s only for a few hours a couple of days out of the week, the extra time can allow for some self-care. It allows time for napping, listening to music, taking a walk or trying out a new hobby. Aside from all the activities and new hobbies one can take up, the help of a professional stress will relieve the stress and anxiety caring for someone so close to you can bring. The time spent with an aging parent is actually quality time rather than time spent worrying about all of the things that have yet to get done. Accepting the fact that your family may need some extra help can be scary and finding someone you can trust to take care of a loved one is a process, but the extra time that you have to take care of yourself and to actually enjoy the time spent with your loved ones will be worth it.