If you are the primary caregiver for a declining parent you may wonder sometimes, “Is there anyone else out there?” You may be shouldering ALL of the caregiver burden by yourself. On one hand, you realize that you could possibly get more help. At the same time, you love your parent and feel like you can do a better job of taking care of them than anyone else. Besides, they love you and want your assistance. It’s a time of rebonding that feels good. You know you are helping and your parent appreciates it.
The problem is that you are spread real thin. Journey Stop 1 is the beginning of the process for you and your Loved One. If you are at this point, it starts slowly. A little at a time. You begin by doing necessary tasks for your declining parent. It starts at an hour or so before you go to work in the morning. Next you add a couple of hours in the evening after you get home from work. You don’t really think much about it – you’re just doing what needs to be done for your parent.
When things get more involved in Journey Stop 2, the load gets pretty heavy. Typically this stage takes from 3 to 6 hours of your day. You start thinking, “How am I going to continue to do all of this and maintain my sanity!?”
There may still be other issues for concern. I’m talking to those of you who are still employed AND are trying to serve as a primary caregiver for your Loved One. Many Family Caregivers have already taken all of their vacation time, “sick” days, and personal time. Those who are lucky enough to have additional time thanks to the good graces of their employer have spent it. They feel that by pushing it anymore, they will be fired.
Additionally you may have family stress. If you are married and/or have children at home, you want to see them and do things with them. Sadly, there is literally no time for that. Between your 40 hour work week and the greatly increased daily time that you are spending with your declining parents, you rarely get to see your own immediate family. It may have come to the point of taxing your personal relationship with your spouse or children. You feel like you are in the middle of a train wreck and don’t know what to do about it.
At some point in time, the realities of life set in. You realize that you are must seek outside help. This may be in the form of in-home care for your parent or, alternatively, facility care. This revelation may have come from multiple places. One or more friends may have told you that you need help or your boss may have “explained it to you”. Your spouse may have told you that they need to see more of you at home. Alternatively, you may have just realized that this crazy schedule will result in bad consequences for you. If you burn out, get fired, suffer personal family problems or suffer physical or emotional consequences as a result of your non-stop schedule, it won’t benefit you OR your parent that you are pouring your life into.
How to find Help
You may be know that you need assistance but don’t know your options. For a more detailed discussion of your options, go to one of our recent blog posts entitled Clues that Momma May Need Help. While you are there, download the attached FREE Enhanced Tip Sheet entitled Making the “Where to Be” Decision for Momma Tip Sheet. Both have some excellent information that will help. However, here’s a few ideas to get you started.
Help for a declining parent typically falls into one of three big categories:
1. Friends or Family – This is an interesting group of people, don’t you agree! One would think that siblings would be there to help with Momma on a moment’s notice – right? After all, it’s their Momma too!!! How do you get siblings to help pull part of the load? They are busy, but you are busy too!
After taking a deep cleansing breath, try to refocus on the fact that to goal is to provide the best care possible for your aging parent. You may be the default primary Family Caregiver, for any number of reasons. Talk to your siblings about doing just one specific task for Momma. Many things can be done by phone or computer. Even if they live out of town or out of state, your sibling(s) can help.
2. Professional Caregivers – Unless your aging parent needs medical assistance, you may be able to utilize the services of non-medical home care. These companies vary a lot in the type of services provided, but most provide sitter services (someone just to “be there” with Momma), light housekeeping and cooking. Ask about specifics, such as will they help transfer Momma from her bed to a wheelchair or assist with bathing, etc.
3. Facilities – There several sub-categories here, but a few are:
- Independent Living Facilities provide housing, some offer meals, and others even have an activities director. Residents must be “independent”, as the name implies, and not require assistance with activities of daily living. Offerings differ a lot, so you should tour several to find the best fit for your parent.
- Assisted Living Facilities provide housing, meals and various other basic services. Residents must usually need assistance with one or more activity of daily living (ex. Bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, eating, etc.) but be able to function somewhat independently. Check with any facility for their specific requirements.
- Skilled Care Facilities, aka Nursing Homes provide assistance for those who need 24 hour skilled medical care. Services and amenities vary a lot, so check around.
Hopefully this blog has pointed you in the right direction. Again, go to our recent blog posts entitled Clues that Momma May Need Help for a more detailed list and download the attached FREE Enhanced Tip Sheet entitled Making the “Where to Be” Decision for Momma Tip Sheet.
Finally, if you are struggling with being the sole caregiver for your parent, click here to download our Alternatives in Care Decision Pack. For a limited time you can get it for just $7 dollars. This pack contains 12 short videos from Doug & Cindy, where they personally discuss care options and give a ton of tips. The Decision Pack also contains the Alternatives in Care Booklet so you can follow along and make notes.