The truth is, being a full-time caregiver can affect your emotional, mental and physical health, and it can have unforeseen effects on your relationship with your parent, as well as your other relationships.
Being adequately prepared for the potential changes of caregiving means asking yourself some of the following questions:
- Am I financially prepared for the extra costs of caregiving?
- Am I really capable of taking care of Dad or Mom all by myself? Do I need to hire outside help or consider assisted living?
- Do I have the social support and resources I’m going to need?
- How will caregiving affect my physical and mental health?
- If a loved one has dementia and can no longer filter their behavior, will I be able to cope with potentially hurtful words or actions?
- Will I be able to allow myself to accept help and take breaks?
- Will I be able to cut back on work responsibilities during those times when I need to care for my parent?
- Will I be able to make time for myself and my family?
Tips for Family Caregivers
One of the most often-repeated pieces of advice we have heard from caregivers is to not forget to take advantage of the many resources that are available. Even if you don’t feel prepared to take on the tasks of caregiving, you can seek assistance from family, friends and support groups to help you through the difficult times.
Like many other family caregivers, Ann Napoletan thought she could handle everything on her own, without support.”In hindsight, I wish I had gotten involved in a support group and dug deeper to find other resources,” says Ann, who writes for Caregivers.com.
“I would have gotten so much out of connecting with others who had been in my shoes; even if through an online group like the US Against Alzheimer’s Community on Facebook. I know I could have benefited immensely from the experience of others when I was so ‘in the dark’ about every aspect of what I was facing.”
This is especially true when a parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. “Our loved one becomes someone they never were, and over time they lose their filter of things that should not be said, actions that should not happen,” says Leeanne Chames, Executive Director of
Memory People. “Words hurt more than any-thing else, and hurtful, hateful words are a part of this journey. When they’re directed at the one that is sacrificing their life to help them, it can be devastating.”
Preparing for this change is only one aspect of coping; often, the best thing we can do is seek out support from those who understand, and remember that we can only do so much our-selves. These are valuable words of advice for every family caregiver.