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What to Expect if You’re Going to be a Caregiver

Mom’s health is deteriorating and she needs help doing day-to-day tasks such as cooking and cleaning. You decide to be her family caregiver, whether that means moving her in your home or going to hers every day. If you’re part of the “sandwich generation”—caring for an elderly parent while you’re still raising your own children—this is no small undertaking.

Here’s what you to keep in mind if you assume the caregiver role:

Start a dialogue

Nurse helping elderly woman to get up from couchInstead of bringing up your concerns out of the blue, find a logical opening to start the conversation. For example, if you see an advertisement for a medical alert, ask Mom what she’d do if she fell at home or what her friends have done. If the first few conversations don’t go well, ask another family member to discuss the matter with her.

Give it time

Mom has driven, paid her bills and lived on her own for as long as she can remember, and she may not feel ready to give up these responsibilities. Keep in mind that your mother isn’t the only one who may need time to adjust: You also may need time to fully recognize the level of responsibility caregiving entails.

Share responsibilities

If you have siblings, talk with them about how they can pitch in, whether by offering their time or their financial support. If they offer their time, make it easier for everyone by drawing up a schedule listing visits, errands or appointments. Be patient with your siblings: The new caregiver paradigm may require everyone to sacrifice.

Recognize caregiver burnout

Balancing work, household responsibilities and caregiving (for both your Mom and your children) can be taxing. Remember to take time for yourself. Caregivers experience a significant amount of fatigue and stress associated with their duties. Find a local caregiver support group or a counselor to discuss your feelings with. If you’re overwhelmed with your duties, think about hiring someone to help clean the house or assume more of the daily responsibilities.

Recognize the rewards

There’s a reason 43.5 million adults in the U.S. serve as caregivers to loved ones: It’s rewarding. It may be frustrating at times, but after you figure out a routine, you may enjoy spending more time together. It’s also been proven that caregivers live longer than non-caregivers because they have realized how to live a healthy life.

Not sure if caregiving or home health care are the best choices for your family? Talk to Life Care Services to find out about the senior care options we offer.

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