Caregiving comes along with many challenges that most people are not prepared for. It is important to be as fully prepared as possible before entering into that situation, and to realize that full-time caregiving may not always be the best thing for you or your loved one. Following are some things that every caregiver will have to face at one time or another.
You will have to make hard choices. There will be many medical, financial, and quality of life decisions that constantly need to be made. Sometimes, your loved one will want something you do not agree with, and it may or not be the best thing for them. It is important to try and have a plan in place and have many decisions already made to save hard times later on.
Being a caregiver to an elderly parent is nothing like having another child. A parent has lived an entire life, and will be set in their ways, as they have a right to be. Your loved one may have health problems that make things more difficult, such as a hearing loss, but they still want to be treated like an adult. They also have adult feelings, and it is important to engage them while going about a routine, and to include them in decisions as much as possible.
Caregiving can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. There may be moments in the day that make you cringe, moments related to a loss of modesty or difficulty with bodily functions. Also, having someone live in your house sometimes means that you may feel like you are being watched all the time. You may have to adjust your routines to make everyone feel at ease.
Your relationships will be strained. Caregiving can be a thankless job, and the effects of that can cause a serious strain on all your relationships. You may be more frustrated with everyone in your life. Sometimes, you need some space, and there may be nowhere to go, as your loved one is now living with you. It is important to reach out to others who are in a similar situation or find a support group to join.
A doctor’s job is to worry about prolonging life, not quality of life. This is an important distinction. Most doctors are very kind and compassionate, and truly concerned for your loved ones well-being. However, their first concern will always be to deal with the physical concerns that would prolong life as much as possible. This is a decision that comes very close to the end of life, but it is important to talk about what your loved ones wishes are before the decision has to be made.
You will need a break. Being a full-time caregiver is a times difficult and stressful, especially with all of life’s other demands in the mix. It is important to find a way to get out and take a breather. Explore private sitters or respite care. It may also be that your loved one would be better off in a different setting, such as a retirement community or nursing home. This allows you to still be a caregiver, but only part time, which can preserve your relationship and you sanity.
Talk to your loved one today. Start the difficult conversations early, so that when the time comes, everyone knows what to expect. You are always welcome to come visit us at the Inn, and we will be happy to answer any questions we can that will help you.