Nowadays, British people are living longer than ever yet they’re not necessarily in good health during those later years, so more adult children are finding themselves providing a level of care for their ageing parents. Things could begin with providing lifts to the doctor’s or visiting a couple of times a week to tidy the house, but then a health crisis quickly escalates an adult son or daughter’s responsibilities to managing their parent’s healthcare, dealing with doctors and medications, and even performing general nursing tasks. It is very common to struggle with balancing the care of a parent with jobs, children and life’s many other responsibilities.
Research tells us that caregivers often put their own health under pressure due to the stress of the tasks they’ve taken on. This stress can be physical, financial and in many cases emotional. Also, in some cases where the elderly parent and adult child have a history of a difficult relationship, the stress can be drastically enhanced putting even more pressure on the care-giver.
What to do to ease your load:
Bring in an expert for support – An experienced care navigator can help you sort through the issues and also provide intervention if it’s hard for you to communicate with your parent or other family members such as siblings. These professionals will help you to navigate the care system as efficiently and quickly as possible, and also will help you to access support services for your parent.
Set boundaries so you aren’t taken for granted – Tell your parent what you are willing to do, and when you will be available to do it. If they lash out at you or treats you with disrespect, express that it is hurtful and that you won’t accept it. Some family caregivers report that this is the first time they stood up to their parent in this way, and that the new communication pattern actually improved a long-term awkward dynamic.
Help your parent (and yourself) to link with social connections – A caregiving pair can quickly become entwined to an unhealthy degree. Perhaps disability or the passing away of old friends has isolated your parent. Perhaps your parent has moved to your community and doesn’t know many people. Check out day centres, your local Age UK centre is a good start to give you tips on the social opportunities that are available for older people in your area. As for yourself, a support group can offer understanding, tips, and reassurance that you’re not alone. Take a look at https://www.myalzteam.com which is one example of this, it’s an online service where you can share experiences with other caregivers just like you.
Take the pressure off – Are you doing it all alone when you don’t have to? If so, why? This is a time when some adult children unconsciously try to prove themselves, but you don’t need to. Can your siblings, your children, nieces, nephews and other relatives help too? Arrange a family meeting to discuss how others can help in other ways; by staying with Mum when you are on business trips for example, or by having Dad visit for part of the year? They could also support by chipping in for the cost of care.
Hire professional care at home – If your parent’s care needs are substantial, living in a nursing home or other supportive living situation might be the best choice. There are also facilities that offer short-term respite care. If your parent lives at home or with you, domiciliary care can be a brilliant source of help. In home care-givers can reduce your workload, providing housekeeping and laundry services and preparing nutritious meals for your parent. They can perform those emotionally difficult and awkward tasks such as bathing, helping with use of the toilet, and dressing. Services they can provide are rather broad, and even include transport to doctor appointments and elsewhere.
If you would like a more focused, personalised service designed to help you find solutions to meet your parent or loved one’s care needs (and your own needs that come with it), My Care Consultant, www.mycareconsultant.co.uk can help. We are expert care navigators helping our customers find and fund the care that is needed (and with everything in between).
You can contact us by calling on (020) 7622 6972 or emailing at email@example.com.
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