People often say, “I promised her I’d never put her in a nursing home” or “Dad told me he never wanted to live in one of those places.” For a variety of reasons, caregivers may choose to care for their older adult at home. And as long as the situation is safe for everyone involved, keeping aging parents at home is a wonderful thing to do.
It’s important to remember, though, that senior care is one of the toughest and most stressful jobs you’ll ever have. That’s why caregivers are at such high risk for burnout and serious health conditions. So if you’re caring for your older adult at home, it’s essential to pace yourself. You can’t run at 110 percent every day! We’re human and that’s simply not sustainable over the long run.
Pacing yourself and getting assistance helps you stay as healthy as possible so you can continue providing great care. To help you keep going over the long term, we share 4 tips for keeping aging parents at home for as long as possible by reducing the caregiving workload and decreasing stress.
Understand how much care is needed. In caregiving, many of us fall into a state where we can’t see the forest for the trees. When you’re overwhelmed with a long list of caregiving responsibilities, you’re so focused on the tasks that you’re not seeing the overall picture. The first step is to find out how much care your older adult really needs. Creating a list of daily, weekly and monthly care tasks can help you understand how much assistance is needed during the day, at night and on weekends. You’ll realize how much supervision is needed and at which times of day. An easy way to make a comprehensive list is to set a notepad out and make quick notes every time you or someone else helps your older adult with something. After a week, you’ll have a good overview of what your senior needs help with and at what times of day. To make sure everything is captured, keep the note-taking going longer to see if there’s anything that happens once or twice a month that you don’t want to forget.
Be realistic about how much care you can provide without harming your own health. Now that you know what your older adult’s care needs are, you can figure out if that’s something you can handle without help. Maybe looking over the list helps you realize that you definitely need help with a variety of tasks. In your evaluation, think carefully about how much care you can realistically provide without harming your own health. Keep in mind that if you take on too much, you will eventually burn out or develop a serious health condition – ultimately leaving you unable to care for anyone. Instead, be as proactive as you can and find ways to get the help you need to keep up your health and keep going as a caregiver.
Share the caregiving responsibility. You might be doing such an amazing job that nobody thinks you need any help caring for your older adult. So even if you feel like you shouldn’t have to say it, ask siblings or close relatives if they’ll take on their share of responsibility so you can take much-needed breaks. Getting help from family will be different in every situation. For one person, it could be moving mom to the sister’s house for a year. Another person and their sibling might take turns living with dad for two months at a time. In other cases, it could mean having your sister stay at your house for a week every two months so you can get away. If they’re willing to help, be creative and flexible. No solution will be perfect, but any help you can get will lessen the workload for you.
Get help with caregiving. Even though it might seem like finding caregiving help takes too much time and effort, remember that it’s an investment that will pay off in the future. Finding help takes patience, effort and creative thinking, but it will be worth it when you’re able to decrease your workload, reduce stress and take regular breaks. Companies like FAVOR Home Care specialize in providing that extra care your loved one may be needing. Please feel free to call us at 501-725-2273 anytime, day or night, for more information. One of our Care Managers will assess the situation and work with you to figure out how best to care for your senior. Maybe care is only needed for a few hours once a week (to give you a break!) or you may find caregiving too daunting to handle on your own and need 24/7 assistance – let us be a resource for you.