For most of our lives, our parents are there to look out for us and help us find our way in life. This unconditional love feels permanent at times – and it is – but in most peoples’ lives, there comes a time where our parents need the same kind of love and support.
Everybody ages, and with age comes a host of physical and mental challenges. Nobody knows exactly what awaits them in old age, but one major reassurance is that our children will be there to help us.
The process of caregiving for older parents who need assistance can be stressful, and there are many challenges: let’s examine which ones can be the most difficult so you can both cope and understand.
Balancing Work and Care
For those who have to work for a living, caregiving for older parents can feel like another full-time job. Besides the stress that comes with constant caregiving, the conflict between work schedules and around-the-clock care can be immense.
Many children who are in situations where care is required consistently cannot realistically meet all of the obligations while maintaining a full-time job. This can cause strain in the form of emotional stress (for not being there for your parents) or financial (by choosing to quit your job in order to provide said care).
Managing Financial Struggles
As alluded to above, the financial struggles that come with caregiving for aging parents can be immense. Even if you are able to provide around-the-clock care, there are financial considerations that go above and beyond balancing a full-time job.
For example, medical bills and temporary caregivers can add a considerable amount to the overall cost of caregiving. Additionally, certain home renovations (wheelchair ramps and lifts, handicap-accessible bathrooms, etc.) can add thousands more to the overall cost. Inevitably, caring for an older parent long-term can exceed the costs of raising a child from birth to adulthood.
Dealing with Emotional and Mental Hardship
Even if work schedules and finances are not obstacles in the caregiving process, stress will inevitably surface. For those who have no help in caregiving, being that custodian 24/7 is an emotionally exhausting endeavor. For those who have siblings, the only relief can be taking turns looking after aging parents.
Some common emotional stresses include worrying about finances, guilt over having to juggle caregiving with other responsibilities and the fear of inevitably losing parents. A variety of caregiving support systems exist to help deal with these burdens.
Finding Free Time
Last but not least, the challenge of being a caregiver and/or full-time employee around-the-clock takes its toll on our minds and bodies. Being able to find free time for yourself is essential – but not always easy.
For those who manage to squeeze in a bit of free time, feelings such as guilt can arise. While it is entirely natural, it is not justified: in order to be a good caregiver, everybody needs a bit of personal time to recharge and refresh.
Providing vital caregiving services – whether you are doing it yourself, sharing the responsibility with family or relying on the services of a professional – can be immensely stressful. From emotional and mental concerns to financial and logistical burdens, making everything come together can feel daunting. It’s important to remember that your love for your aging parents matters above all else and that the obstacles are surmountable with a bit of planning.