While being a primary caregiver can be rewarding and allow you to spend time with your aging parent in their later years, it can be emotionally exhausting. Oftentimes, adult children are unprepared for the reality of what being a primary caregiver for an aging parent entails. Here are five hard truths about being the primary caregiving for your aging parent.
1. You will have to make extremely hard choices
Your aging parent’s life is now in your hands as a primary caregiver. Medical decisions, financial decisions, end of life decisions all need to be made, and as the primary caregiver, they need to be made by you. Sometimes what your loved one will want, is different than what is best for them.
Under the best of circumstances, all of these conversations and discussions will happen years before the need for a primary caregiver occurs. But if they do not happen, then consider obtaining a power of attorney, so that at least financial and medical issues can be decided without legal debate.
2. Elderly parents are not children
Sometimes people think that caregiving for an aging parent is just like caregiving for a child. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your aging parent lived an entire life, including before you were born. They have established and entrenched habits and preferences that you will need to adjust to and accommodate.
Without engaging them consistently, they can feel ignored or irrelevant. The type of care involved with an aging parent often involves endless doctors’ visits and supervision.
3. Relationships can be challenging
Caring for an aging parent in the home and perhaps constantly running them to doctors’ appointments will take a toll on relationships. Husbands, wives and children all have to adjust to a new normal that includes the caregiving of an aging parent. With your parent living in your home, quarters become tighter, and everyone feels the need for a bit more space, both physically and emotionally.
Additionally, friends may not understand the struggles you are going through, and those relationships can become strained as well. Joining a support group can help you through this complex and challenging time. Finally, just know that you will need a break from caregiving for your aging parent at times. Take time for yourself, your family and your friends.
4. You will feel embarrassed at times
Your aging parent may not have the mental or physical capabilities or control that they once did. Oftentimes, your parent will need care with bathing or bathroom activities. Just accept that these moments will happen allow yourself the grace to know that they are likely not as cringeworthy as you may believe. Ultimately, you are sacrificing a bit of comfort emotionally to take care of your aging parent or loved one.
5. Doctors may have different perspectives than you
A doctor’s responsibility is to prolong life, not prolong the quality of life. While doctors are required to do no harm, and most are compassionate and kind, their job description includes ensuring that the patient’s physical well-being is taken care of, perhaps at the expense of the enjoyment and quality of life.
These decisions are extremely personal, and it is important to remember that you have the right as the primary caregiver to ensure that your parent has not only the best medical care, but also the best quality of life possible as well.
If you are a primary caregiver for an aging parent, you have a great deal of responsibility on your shoulders. If you feel you need additional assistance, Contact Rocky Mountain Assisted Living to learn more about the services we offer.
We understand placing your family member is an important and difficult decision. At Rocky Mountain Assisted Living, we want everyone to feel confident in the level of care that their loved one will receive.