As the primary caregiver for your aging parent, you may feel like you’re doing it all by yourself and perhaps you have been the only one helping your parent live independently in his home. Each aging parent is unique and has different needs that he assistance with. As you started this honorable journey, you might not have thought that the responsibilities would be too overwhelming or you might have seen this responsibility as your duty to your parent.
But somewhere along the line, the increasing tasks have become overwhelming. Perhaps other parts of your life now require more of your attention. There is no shame in that; you have done a lot for your parent. What you might need now are some helping hands to become part of your caregiving team.
Here are some of the people in your life (and the community) you can – and should – reach out for help in this situation.
If you haven’t asked before, reach out to local family members for help in some of the needs your parent may have. Older grandkids can take care of outdoor chores such as lawn mowing or snow shoveling. Your siblings may be able to help with providing a meal once a week or going through the bills monthly. Even if your family has shown reluctance in the past, it’s okay to keep asking.
Ask your parent’s friends to create a schedule of connecting with your parent weekly so that he won’t feel he’s all alone. With the current health crisis and the necessary steps to stay healthy by isolating physically from others, your parent may feel lonely. Friends who call even weekly, can remind him that he has people who care for him.
If your aging parent lives in a community where he has deep connections, many of his neighbors may want to help. They can help in providing those needed social connections that support your parent emotionally and mentally. Ask them to pop in for visits (even if it’s safe, socially-distanced visits out in the yard) or have them bring over meals or baked goods to your parent. If a neighbor has a great snowblower, ask if he can take care of your parent’s driveway when he does his own.
If your parent belongs to a religious organization or is part of a club, see what programs they have to support their seniors. Whether it’s social support through phone calls and visits or if it’s more tangible help by providing financial assistance or meals, they can be an integral part in helping your parent live at home independently.
One of a great ways to help yourself as a caregiver is to hire a homecare provider to assist in household chores, meal preparation, transportation assistance and/or social interaction. A homecare agency will work with you and your parent to see how they can best serve both of you by carrying part of the load of taking care of your parent at home.
By asking for and setting up additional people in your team to care for your parent, you’ll be able to fulfill your duties without the worry of burnout or resentment and fatigue developing.