Caring for elderly parents has a major impact on your home life, especially if you’re married and have children of your own. The responsibility is even greater when your parent has a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Although family caregiving is a challenge many adults must face as their parents age, the responsibility of their health and well-being doesn’t need to be yours alone. Siblings, friends, and other people can support your effort and alleviate the pressure and stress associated with caring for an elderly parent by carrying out different caregiving tasks.
Read on as we will offer vital information on how caring for parents in their senior years might alter your home life and help you find ways to prepare effectively.
What Could Change?
Any form of care for elderly parents is never easy and can have a dramatic impact on your schedule. Depending on the type of care your elderly parent needs, your entire schedule could change.
Your children were likely your top priority up to this point, but now with an elderly parent in your home, you’ll have two priorities to balance. You and your partner might need to share responsibility for parent nights, picking kids up from school, and even helping kids with schoolwork, while the other tends to the needs of the elderly parent.
Of course, every family is different. Some elderly parents need assistance with self-care and other day-to-day tasks. Other families have children who are more self-sufficient and can tend to some of their own needs without support from an adult.
The best way to prepare and be able to balance all of your new responsibilities is to create an organized schedule that not only assigns responsibility for various tasks, but it also ensures everything of importance is tended to when needed.
Medical care, no matter what it entails, can be expensive. This can have an effect on your financial freedom. Some families find they must cut expenses when caring for an elderly parent, even if the bulk of medical care is covered by Medicare or other insurance.
(For more information on who qualifies for Medicare and what it covers, check out this information from the Department of Health and Human Services.)
With an additional person living in your home, you’ll need to adjust your budget and consider how much you’ll now have to spend on food, energy, and other living expenses.
Many families find it’s easier to put travel on hold while caring for an elderly parent, but if your parent is still mobile and able to travel with you, vacationing as a family can be a great memory. It might be wise to consider hiring a professional caregiver to help your parent during the family vacation so everyone enjoys a break from caregiving responsibilities.
Likewise, if you choose to travel and your parent remains at home. A professional caregiver can help your elderly parent while you’re away and ensure they are safe and tended to.
-Limited Living Space
If your home is “just right” for the size of your family now, adding an extra member can leave the space to feeling cramped. Sizing up to a larger home with more rooms is ideal, but that’s rarely an option for most families. Most choose to alter their existing space to accommodate everyone’s needs.
Additionally, you’ll need to consider your parent’s belongings. If they have a lot of furniture you might consider putting the pieces in storage or holding a garage sale to sell what is no longer needed.
-Emotional Effects in the Home
Not all of the adjustments are negative when an elderly parent moves into your home.
Having an elderly parent live with you provides an opportunity to form a stronger bond with the person who raised you. It also gives your children an opportunity to get closer to their grandparents. Obviously, if your parent is struggling with a health concern, it can have an effect on how they relate to everyone, but most families find they appreciate the additional time they get to spend with their loved one.
Make sure your children understand the new arrangement and that they aren’t frightened or uncomfortable. There might be a period of adjustment after your parent moves in with you, but most children are happy to have their grandparent around and the living arrangement is a joy for everyone.
Seeing a loved one age and their health deteriorate is not easy. It’s especially difficult when your parent is dealing with dementia. In the long run, however, you’ll be happy you provided them with a comfortable living space surrounded by their loved ones.
What Can You Do to Help?
If you’ve committed to living with your aging parent and you’re still struggling after the initial adjustment period, there are a few things you can do to make the situation easier for everyone concerned.
-Hire a Caregiver
To help your parents with their day-to-day tasks and self-care, you can hire a caregiver. If you’re responsible for caring for your parent, but you also have a full-time job outside of the home, hiring a caregiver can be essential to your daily responsibilities.
Caregivers are trained in senior care and know what to do if something goes wrong when you’re not at home. Having someone to help you take care of elderly parents allows you to do all the things you need to do during the course of the day without worrying about their health.
If you’d like advice on hiring a senior caregiver for your loved one at home or while you travel, check out this information from SeniorAdvice.com.
-Counseling for the Whole Family
The emotional toll experienced by caring for a loved one can be overwhelming. It can also be a difficult time in your parent’s life if they must adjust to a new living arrangement and also face deteriorating health.
Counseling can be beneficial for everyone in the family and provide the emotional support needed to deal with a challenging phase in life. Speaking to a professional can help you find coping mechanisms and prepare you for the various changes to come. It also helps to have someone outside of the family to share your feelings with and vent to when times get a little tough.
This article from GoodTherapy.com offers information and advice about how counseling can help with the aging process.
Taking care of elderly parents may not be easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are many opportunities for support and groups willing to provide assistance with taking care of your parents.
And if taking care of an elderly parent yourself isn’t an option, be sure to research senior living communities near you to find the right care for your parent or loved one. For more information on our communities, visit our Arizona or Utah “Find a Community” pages.