Oftentimes, family members, out of love, will try to take over the responsibility of caring for a parent or loved one. They can soon discover that this is extremely difficult and not manageable if they are still taking care of their own families or working full-time or both.
When having responsibility for an aging parent, it can be a bit of a challenge. Your parents raised you, and understandably, you feel a responsibility to help them when they need it. But, sometimes, that can be a little overwhelming.
So, you consider home care. You can hire a professional specifically trained to manage certain parts of your parents’ life while you still keep as involved as possible. Let’s consider a few of the advantages of taking that route.
Meal Planning and Prep
Consistent nutrition is key to continued health among seniors. Caregivers can come to your parents’ home, help them decide what they want to eat during the week and help them build a shopping list. If needed, the caregiver can even take your parents to shop for groceries.
Caregivers can place online grocery orders for you or someone else to pick up or arrange for delivery. He or she can put groceries away, prepare meals, and even join your parents while they are eating.
Some seniors have challenges staying organized. A caregiver can help them get and stay organized. This involves helping your parents avoid clutter on surfaces, the floor, and the furniture. Organization can be extended to managing daily medications by keeping track of prescriptions, assuring that refills are on time, and reminding your parents when to take their next dose.
While your involvement with your parents is critically important, your life cannot realistically revolve around them. In family situations where that must happen, the “burnout” on both sides can create friction. But, as your parents age, their circle of friends will dwindle as they relocate or pass away, and human contact becomes more important.
Consistent contact is one of the most significant benefits of home care. Companionship with a compassionate visitor allows for socialization on a consistent basis, which will ease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
In some situations, the family visit becomes less of a visit and more a task of getting your parents’ home back in order. With the assistance of a caregiver, that valuable time can be spent visiting and doing activities that enhance the experience of spending time together. Further, even if your parents are capable housekeepers, some chores are simply harder to do as you age. This can be further challenging if they are limited by arthritis pain or mobility issues. Caregivers can help with the harder household chores on a routine basis.
Peace of Mind
Particularly if you don’t live nearby, relying on reports from other family members or neighbors can be limiting. And, if the only time you get to see your parents is on holidays, there are long periods of time when you cannot get a good feel for the situation. Caregivers can be a consistent source of information unencumbered by family dynamics and bias. You will have greater peace of mind knowing they are checked on and can alert you if anything changes.
It may be that your mom and/or dad can’t (or shouldn’t) drive. Mobility or vision changes may have affected their reaction times or their ability to see clearly and identify blind spots. Caregivers are a good alternative to having them drive themselves or rely on public transportation or ride-sharing services. They have the comfort of knowing they can be driven to their appointments, stores, and local attractions.
It may be that your life and proximity allow you the opportunity to manage all of the tasks described above. Whether this is a full-time effort or less frequent, sometimes you need some “you time.” You will need a break.
To plan for that, you need to contact a well-referenced agency that supplies respite care for such situations. You will need to plan for it in advance, of course. You can inquire about availability, range of services, and pricing. You will need to describe the services you expect from the caregiver and, if possible, have your parents meet the caregiver in advance of your travel plans to make them comfortable with the change in routine.
Whether you engage a caregiver occasionally or on a longer-term basis, understanding the availability of this asset can greatly relieve you of worry, time pressure, and responsibility. Get to know your options and use them as your parents age. It will make your life easier.