When you are the family caregiver for your aging parent
Here are some resources and tips for how adult children can manage their new role as the caregiver for an aging parent.

October 28, 2021

Kincern

Caregiver for aging parent adult child embracing elderly mother

Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re the family caregiver, it’s critical that you take steps to preserve your own health and well-being while you extend your support, caring for a loved one.

As the population ages, more caregiving is being provided by people who aren’t health care professionals. About 1 in 3 adults in the United States provides care to other adults as informal caregivers. In addition to support with daily living, another role for caregivers can come in the form of estate management for an aging parent, like advocacy and legal guardianships both for their medical and financial needs.

Sometimes, when a family member steps into their new role as the family caregiver, it can be difficult to find a balance between their pre-caregiving days and the new responsibilities they’ve found themselves navigating.

How can caregivers manage their new role without becoming emotionally drained? With patience, support, kindness and a little bit of humor to laugh through the challenges together.

We Know Caregiving Is Rewarding But Stressful

Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide.

But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress, which is the emotional and physical stress of caregiving, is very common.

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As the family caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

How To Deal With Caregiver Stress

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.

To help manage caregiver stress:

  • Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do.
  • Focus on what you are able to provide. It’s normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
  • Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. And, realize that it is okay to say no to requests – you can only do so much.
  • Join a support group. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through.
  • Stay connected. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it’s just a walk with a friend.
  • Set personal health goals. For example, set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.

Remember, You Are Not Alone

If you’re like many caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to feeling isolated, frustrated and even depressed.

Rather than struggling on your own, take advantage of local resources for caregivers. To get started, read our previous blog post on “Financial Caregiver Support Services” that may be helpful for you, or check out the Eldercare Locator or contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to learn about services in your community. You can find your local AAA online or in the government section of your telephone directory.

 Financial caregiving begins with Kincern.

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