Taking on the responsibility of caregiving for an older loved one can be a tough decision – especially for someone doing it for the first time without truly knowing all the demands it can have on their time, finances and schedule.
It’s not a decision that should be made without first taking many things into consideration. It’s also not a choice you should make alone.
So if your loved one is advancing in age and starting to encounter some health issues that could require increased supervision or treatment, you should start thinking about caregiving solutions.
How do I prepare for caregiving?
Begin the caregiving conversation early. The best time to prepare for caregiving is before you need to actually start doing it. If you wait until your loved one gets sick or when they need increased care, you may be forced to make hasty decisions because the need is immediate.
Adult children should start talking to their parents about caregiving when they reach age 70, even if they’re healthy. Ask them what they would like to happen if they get sick. Would they want home health care or to move in with you? Would they rather live on their own at a senior center or assisted living community?
Make sure that these discussions include more than just you and your loved one. The best caregiving situations are typically ones where it’s a team effort – a large network of family, friends, professional health organizations and home health care providers. When the caregiving responsibility falls solely on one or two people, the stress on everyone is high, which ultimately affects your loved one and the care they receive.
While these discussions may seem better suited for the future, preparing in advance will ultimately result in the best possible caregiving situation for your loved one, as well as you and your family.
Will I have to quit my job to be a caregiver?
If you and your caregiving team can plan ahead, no one should have to turn their life totally upside down in order to effectively care for your loved one. The best thing to do is to talk to your boss and co-workers to explain your situation.
Brainstorm ideas that will allow you some flexibility in your work schedule to free up time needed for caregiving. Maybe your boss will allow you to work remotely a few days a week (even one) or work an odd shift. If you’re a valued employee, your employer is likely to accommodate your needs – especially because they know you’re caring for a loved one.
Is it OK to hire professional help?
In addition to enlisting the help of friends, family and neighbors, it’s a good idea to seek out other resources to assist with caregiving. There are many organizations skilled and experienced in home care. With their help, your loved one can receive quality care for their mind, body and spirit.
Companies like AmeriCare provide short and long-term home care that includes companion care, personal care, post-operative care and respite care. Our caregivers are certified nurse aides trained and qualified in at-home care. They have earned Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Home Health Aide (HHA) training.
While you’re at work, taking care of your spouse and children or just need a break, home care professionals can help your loved one with many daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, medications, exercise and rehab, and other tasks. Hiring a professional home care company will help relieve some of your stress and help you not to get burnt out from the huge time commitment required as the primary caregiver.