Over 29 percent of Americans provide care for someone who is ill. Many of these incredible caregivers are adult children.
The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that 48.9 million Americans care for an adult, relative, or friend.
How To Lighten The Load For Incredible CareGivers
The rewards of seeing an elderly parent recover from a health crisis, overcome depression, or return to health after a fall often outweigh the pressures that caregiving can bring.
Easing the Caregiving Process
Yet, the role of the caregiver is not light, and as Americans live longer, the number of adult children who find themselves caring for an aging parent might continue to increase. To make the caregiving process easier, adult children can:
- Inspect their home for safety hazards (e.g., extension cords the aging parent could trip on, dim lights). The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has a home safety checklist adult children can review free of charge.
- Install safety bars in bathrooms, hallways, and other areas where the elderly parent needs support when they stand.
- Get information on the illness or condition (e.g., Alzheimer’s, depression) the aging parent has. Getting information will help alleviate surprises and reduce stress and worry as the adult child learns what to expect (e.g., their parent experiencing nausea due to side effects caused by taking certain medicines) as they continue to care for their parent.
- Solicit the support of other relatives (like aunts, uncles, cousins). Ask family members if they will help with specific tasks like taking the parent to doctors’ appointments, preparing meals, doing the laundry, going grocery shopping, etc.
- Meet the aging parent’s physicians. Talk to them about the progress the parent is making, changes that should be made to the elderly parent’s diet, exercise regimen, or daily routine.
- Keep a record of physician telephone numbers, addresses, prescriptions, and the amounts of medicine the parent has been taking.
Soliciting Incredible Caregivers Support From Others
Because caring for an elderly parent can be taxing on an adult child’s finances, emotional and psychological states, and social life, it is essential that adult children who are caring for one or more aging parents set aside time to relax and enjoy themselves.
They should go to the movies, out to dinner, attend an entertainment event or visit a friend, and do so without feeling guilty for not being with their aging parent.
Adult children should also avoid feeling like they are solely responsible for caring for their aging parents. By reducing the need to think that they “owe” their parent every free second they have and by steering clear of the need to “do more” for their parent than other siblings, friends, or loved ones, adult children can reduce their stress levels.
As adult children seek support from relatives and friends and let go of the need to prove they love the aging parent most, a circle of support can be created.
Circle of Support for Adult Children
Adult children can then work with the circle of support (relatives, friends, church members) as a team. This alliance can help to reduce the desire to “protect” the parent from the outside world, a world the aging parent once thrived in and still needs to feel connected to others.
Caring for aging parents can cause adult children to experience stress and worry. These emotions are reduced when adult children solicit the support of other relatives and friends.
Keeping telephone numbers of the parent’s physicians and doctor’s appointments nearby can also help to reduce pressures adult children feel. With a strong circle of support, adult children who are caring for an aging parent can continue to enjoy their own lives.