As your senior parent’s primary caregiver, you’ve learned that the responsibility can be as satisfying as it is overwhelming. It may be difficult to determine when you’re about to – or already have – depleted your personal means of nurturing your mom or dad.
Caring for your parent isn’t a solo task. Here are the signs your parent needs additional care.
1. Your parent’s needs exceed your ability/expertise
The caregiving phase of your life may have begun when your senior parent was in relatively good health. Now, your parent’s level of fitness, mental and/or physical, may have declined. You could be nurturing and protecting a loved one suffering from dementia, a chronic physical ailment or disease, or mental health issues. There’s no question that you and your parent require greater help from family and friends, medical practitioners, professional aides and community agencies that provide much-needed elder services.
2. You’re struggling to handle other responsibilities
No one disputes that you are capable of caring for your parent. Perhaps it’s becoming increasingly obvious that you’re less successful at fulfilling other obligations. This may be especially true if you hold a job or have other family members in your life.
According to the report titled “Caregiving in the U.S.” by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP:
- More than six in 10 of working caregivers report their caregiving responsibilities have affected their work.
- More than half of working caregivers say holding these two roles simultaneously has resulted in having to go in (to work) late, leave early or take time off during the day to provide care.
The same report notes that “half of caregivers say they have less time for families and friends than before taking on caregiving responsibilities. A substantial proportion also say they have given up vacations, hobbies or other social activities as a result of caregiving.”
3. Your family/friends tell you it’s time to get help
Although relatives and friends may admire your commitment to caregiving, don’t be surprised if they encourage you to utilize professional or volunteer resources to deliver care.
4. You’re burning out
Are you increasingly ill, depressed or angry? Those are all signs of stress. In a study titled “Evercare/National Alliance for Caregiving Study of Caregivers — What They Spend, What They Sacrifice,” respondents reported:
- Heightened stress or anxiety (65 percent)
- Difficulty sleeping (49 percent)
- Increased financial worries (43 percent)
- Depression or hopelessness (37 percent)
- New or worsening health problems (26 percent)
5. Your relationship with your parent is suffering
A change in the tone of your relationship with Mom or Dad is a sign that you and your parent may benefit from less interaction. This may be an ideal time to employ the services of professionals, and solicit aid or accept offers of help from family and friends.
To ensure that you’re providing the best care for your senior parent, take advantage of every option for support that’s at your disposal.
For more information on the challenges of aging, download the “Parent Care Guide.”