Many of the most common mistakes that caregivers make while caring for their aging parents can be avoided simply by being aware of them. By taking note of these oft-made mistakes, you can reduce the emotional toll of caregiving on you and your family.
Avoid Common Caregiver Pitfalls
1. Not Asking for Help
You can’t be expected to know everything or do everything on your own, although many caregivers feel that they must. In many cases, though, others are more than willing to help if you request it. Discuss your needs with family members and close friends. If you have a specific need — such as a sitter for a few hours while your child attends karate lessons — you may find that you have more support available than you thought.
2. Not Seeking Out Multiple Options for Housing
Seniors today have more housing options than ever before, as Helpguide.org details. Don’t assume that your parents have to move in with you when they can no longer live on their own, as it’s not necessarily the best option. They may be better off retaining some independence in a senior-living community or assisted-living home, where they can attend regular social activities with their peers. Some may require skilled nursing care that can be best provided in a long-term facility; in some cases, these options may actually cost less than around-the-clock in-home care.
3. Failing to Consider the Long Term
When emotions are running high due to an incident such as an illness or injury to your parents, it may be tempting to make rash decisions without thinking about the future, which can create a number of problems. You want to consider all the possibilities if there’s a chance that your parents will move in with you. If you don’t plan accordingly, this can cause extra stress and frustration in the future.
4. Not Being Prepared
Caring for aging parents doesn’t just require patience and strength; it also takes careful organization and planning. Being prepared can help make certain situations easier to handle. Understanding your parents’ insurance coverage, for example, makes it easier to get them the care they need. Keeping a list of medications in your purse or storing a medical file in a handy spot can be lifesaving in the case of a medical emergency. Being aware of your parents’ financial plan for long-term care can reduce stress if additional assistance becomes necessary.
5. Ignoring Self-Care
While you want to ask for help mainly to find assistance for caregiver duties when your own resources are stretched, ensuring that you stay physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy is also important. Respite care may offer you the chance to make a weekly getaway to a group exercise class, for example, or simply to take care of tasks unrelated to the care of your parents. Join a support group, even if it only meets online. Family Caregiver Alliance offers a comprehensive self-care guide for caregivers.
Family caregiving duties can be stressful, but by avoiding common mistakes, you can reduce that stress and stay on an even keel. For more caregiver tips, talk to your support group, discuss your needs with your loved one’s doctors, and look online for caregiver best practices.
Looking to ease caregiver stress? Getting some extra support can help. A medical alert system can bring additional peace of mind to caregivers and their senior loved ones.