By Barbara McVicker, Guest Blogger
(first in a multi-part caregiver series)
Being a caregiver for your elderly parents or relatives can be one of the most rewarding jobs, but also one of the hardest. If you are prepared, it can be quite fulfilling. If you are unprepared, it can definitely be one of the hardest and most mentally and physically draining jobs of a lifetime.
Fortunately, you can find help and support. There are tons of resources and people who can ease your burden of caregiving and address your concerns as you take on this role of caring for older adults.
As a national eldercare expert, I’ve spent my career helping people excel at caregiving, and I invite you to join me at an upcoming presentation at Willow Brook at Delaware Run in Delaware, Ohio, on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. My lecture, “Are You Ready? Caring for Mom & Dad” will equip you to face caregiver challenges. The event is free.
If you’re just getting into caregiving or want to prepare for the time in the future when you will, just know you don’t have to go it alone. And it helps to know what to expect as you embark on this journey.
Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint! We underestimate the obligation of caregiving. Many adult children step up to be the primary hands-on caregiver having no idea of the length of time, the physical and emotional exhaustion or the financial impact involved. We often feel stressed and overwhelmed because we not only have too much to do, but also too many people demanding too much of us.
In many ways you become the CEO of a very small assisted living facility… juggling multiple healthcare providers, appointments, services and support staff, hiring and directing care workers, providing transportation and food, managing insurance bills, and administering medications while still trying to be their child. Chronic care maintenance is complicated, and you do not have the training for all these tasks and issues.
So you think you can burn the candle at both ends—do it ALL! That might work for some months, but you could be caring for your parents almost as long as you spent raising your kids.
At a recent workplace luncheon, I asked the audience what was the most surprising aspect of caregiving. One man said, “The Time!” Someone else said that it was the financial support. Caregivers often have to cover tuition for kids, funding their own retirement and providing financial support for parents.
It’s common to feel alone, isolated and without support from your family. Even good families become dysfunctional when presented with the tasks of caregiving. Only 10% of primary caregivers feel that the responsibility of caregiving is equally distributed within the family.
Most of the time people focus on the patient and not the caregiver. The adult child caregiver is the lynchpin in keeping Mom and Dad safe and well. Think about the flight attendant who stands at the front of the crowded airplane and addresses everyone, “Remember to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others around you”.
This does not seem like something one would do in a crisis, but it really is the right action to take. If you are not breathing, how can you take care of others?
Join me on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at Willow Brook at Delaware Run in Delaware, Ohio, for advice, tips and information that can make caregiving easier and help you create a plan. This event is co-sponsored by SourcePoint.
Barbara McVicker is an author, speaker, and host of the PBS-TV special “Stuck in the Middle: Caring for Mom and Dad.” To register for the Willow Brook event on Oct. 17, please call 740-201-5789 or go to: willow-brook.org/caring-for-mom-and-dad.