Your mother is aging and now needs help with household and personal care. In recent years you’ve watched her resilience falter, along with her energy and memory.
The two of you talked that this day would come, and now it’s here. When you had the conversation with your mom or dad, you learned about their plans and hopes for their later years. For some, a quick decline in health may mean that the conversation will now be with additional family members as you determine next steps.
Caregivers’ Multiple Roles
When you come right down to it, being a caregiver has multiple roles! You are running your own household, and now the well being of one or two elders. That includes managing your parents’ household, assuring that finances, insurances, assets, and day-to-day needs are met. You likely are one of millions with children who are school age, in college, or now out on their own. Not only do you have multiple roles, you are responsible for multiple generations! Referring to you as part of ‘the sandwich generation’ doesn’t come close to describing all that you do.
On days that are challenging, or when hearing others’ stories about the stress of caregiving, thinking about its small gifts can offer some comfort.
- One ‘up’ is being able to give back to someone who has been there, guiding you for years (Gray, 2015). Even when relationships have been tense, providing the care and kindness you would like to receive offers fulfillment.
- Families find new or renewed closeness while providing care for elder parents. Sharing old and new stories and memories can create special moments and connections.
- Even when a senior’s recent memory fades, recollections of the ‘good old days’ can be vivid. Playing your parent’s favorite music or having him relate that same old story, can promote laughter, tears, and maybe a few hugs!
- Some of life’s most meaningful lessons emerge during times of caregiving. Empathy, gentle touches, and quiet moments are beneficial for those involved.
- You begin to reflect on your own advancing years and what you want them to be.
And Then, There are the Downs
Despite the positives, caregiving and its challenges typically become the responsibility of daughters (O’Donnell, 2016).
- One down is not knowing exactly what the future holds, and hoping to make the right decisions about care. There is so much to consider.
- There can be stress within your family. When others’ expectations become burdensome, it might be time to reach out for guidance provided through your local Area Agency on Aging (n4a, 2016).
- Women in the caregiving role experience work/career interruptions and changes that affect future employment and finances. Learning about these challenges ahead of time can guide planning. It is vital to protect your own future as you provide for your parent’s present!
- If you notice a change in your parent’s mental, emotional, or physical state, it may be because of a decline in health. Having your parent see their healthcare provider gives you a partner in decision making on a stressful day.
- You have more headaches, aches and pains, and don’t sleep well. These signs of increased stress mean it’s time to make time for self-care, perhaps including a healthcare checkup!
The Benefits of Sharing Support
The web’s quick communication broadens support networks for women in your situation. Sites offer information and chat opportunities, giving you the chance to read others’ stories, frustrations, and caregiving tips.
- One of them, daughterhood.org, offers tips and forthright insights about your role.
- The AARP website has home caregiving resource reading (Goyer, n.d.).
- Reaching out to friends and community groups adds to your support network as you add to theirs!
At Cranberry Home Care we consult with families who are planning care for senior loved ones. During our free senior care consultation we are available to discuss services that will support your family and your caregiving responsibilities.
Goyer, A. (n.d.). AARP: Tips for caregiving at home. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2017/home-safety-tips-ag.html
Gray, J. (2015). The six hidden costs to caring for an aging parent. Aging life care association. Retrieved from https://www.aginglifecare.org/ALCA_Web_Docs/memberonly/mktgtools/ALCAWhitePaper_SixHiddenCosts_MAY2015.pdf
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). (2016). Home & community-based services. Retrieved from https://www.n4a.org/hcbs
O’Donnell, L. (2016). The crisis facing America’s working daughters. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/working-daughters-eldercare/459249/