Being able to have your parents around for a long time is a blessing, but with their aging comes the increased need for them to receive the proper care. As rewarding as it is for you to be a caregiver for your parents it’s a massive responsibility. There’s not only the financial toll it can take, but an emotional one as well, and the more serious the health condition, the larger those tolls are going to be.
Hiring a professional caregiver for your parents, whether it’s live-in, full-time or part-time, can ease a lot of the stress and worries that you’re dealing with. If you’re considering this option, the following are just some of the benefits that come along with hiring someone for when you can’t be there.
When you leave your elderly parents at home, even if you need to go out for an hour, it could put you in a state of panic. You’re worried about what they’re doing, if they’re okay, and how you’re going to find them when you get home. Having a caregiver there allows you to have peace of mind knowing someone is with them should they need assistance, whether it’s making it to the bathroom or just finding the remote.
You never want your parents to fall regardless of what age they are, but when they’re elderly it becomes a whole new level of concern. At their age, if they fall, it can lead to serious or life-threatening injuries or even death. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries” to those who are 65 and older. A caregiver can be there to assist them when need be and can help them take care of things such as putting laundry away or going up and down stairs so they won’t try to do it themselves and risk falling.
According to MedlinePlus (a website of the National Institutes of Health), as you get older your chances of getting sick increase, and due to fewer immune cells in the body of an older person, healing is slowed. When you’re sick and you’re taking care of your elderly parents, you’re opening them up to the chances of contracting what you have or worse, and they’re not going to be able to handle it as well as you. At least you’ll know a caregiver can provide back-up support to take care of them so you can get better without putting them at risk.
One thing those who care for elderly parents don’t hear enough? You are important and your life matters, too. Children who are caregivers for their parents not only have to take care of their own lives, which, let’s face it, is stressful enough as it is, but now they’re completely responsible for the well-being of another adult who has health issues. When you have someone else helping you in the caregiving department you have a chance to give yourself a mental break. Even if it’s going to a movie by yourself, getting a cup of coffee in a cafe, or shopping for a new outfit, that seemingly simple and small amount of time can be a complete refresher. Time for yourself is important whether or not you’re caring for another.
When you’re caring for someone who can do only a few or perhaps none of the household chores they used to handle, you may be surprised just how quickly everything builds up, especially the dishes and laundry. Those two things don’t stop just because the person isn’t as mobile as they used to be. A caregiver can take on the laundry, dishes, shopping and other light household chores that would otherwise fall on you. It may not seem like much, but it’s a pretty big deal to have that off your mind when you’re dealing with so many other things.
When you have kids you can usually take them with you if you go to appointments but when you’re caring for an elderly parent, not so much. You have to make sure your parent gets to their own appointments, but what are you supposed to do when you have your own places you need to be? Having a caregiver allows you to be more flexible with your scheduling whether you’re going to the dentist, picking up kids up from school, or having dinner with a friend. The caregiver can also go with your parents to their appointments to give you some time to take care of your own responsibilities.
Depending on the health of your parents, handling their doctor appointments, hospital visits, prescriptions and other medical needs can be like a part-time job in itself. A caregiver can go to the hospital and doctor appointments with your parents, pick up their prescriptions, remind them to take their medication on time, monitor their blood pressure, make sure they’re adhering to dietary guidelines and various other healthcare needs. They’re also able to see your parents on a daily basis, especially if they’re there full-time, so they’ll be able notice any changes in eating habits or bodily functions, their cognitive ability and their appearance. The caregiver can be a consistent presence that will be able to notice even the slightest changes should there be any health issues that have yet to fully come to light.
It’s easy to say that your relationships with others aren’t going to change when you become a full-time caregiver for your parents, but we all know that’s not the case. However, even though the relationships change, they don’t have to suffer or implode. You can have relationships with family and friends and even with a significant other, but it’s going to take a lot more effort from everyone involved to bring the plans to fruition. Hiring a caregiver can make it a lot easier for you to do what you can to maintain the relationships on your end. Keep in mind that you’re your parents’ support system, but you need one of your own as well.
As much as you love talking to your parents, you don’t need to be the only person they vent to and talk with. This often happens when you’re their primary caregiver and others in their life can’t be around as often as you. An outside caregiver can be another source of companionship for your parents. Consider it one more person who cares about them and one more person they care about.
As much as you worry about your parents, they still worry about you too and will continue to do so. There’s often a huge amount of stress involved once it’s determined that your parents need a caregiver. When the roles are reversed and the children become the caregivers, the parents often feel like a burden, like it’s something their children shouldn’t have to do. On the flip side, you’re stressed and likely feeling that you’re not doing enough, while at the same time chastising yourself because you’re trying to figure out how to handle your own life and theirs at the same time. It’s amazing how one single person, in this case the caregiver you bring in, can alleviate so much stress for both of you.
There are very few situations where you’re going to be able to not work and just take care of your parents 24/7. Chances are you need to work and when you’re worried about trying to balance both, in addition to your other responsibilities, it can take a toll on your focus at your job. As understanding as your boss might be about your situation, little-to-no concentration at work over a long period of time could eventually lead to a pink slip. That situation isn’t going to help you or your parents. A caregiver isn’t just beneficial to you on a personal level, they can also have a positive effect on your professional life. When you know someone is at home caring for your parents you’ll be able to concentrate more at what you’re doing at work and do your job properly.
You might feel some guilt associated with hiring a caregiver for your parent(s), but the truth is that it benefits you just as much as it benefits them. Running on empty and being stressed out and half focused isn’t going to help anyone. To see if hiring an outside caregiver is a good fit, you can start by hiring someone for a few hours a week, then you can discuss increasing the time. Just remember that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s allowing you and your parents to be in a better frame of mind, which also happens to be better for the health and well-being of everyone involved.