When Adult Children Become Caregivers
Over 34 million Americans each year serve in an unpaid caregiving role to someone 50 or older. Nearly half of these caregivers say they didn’t have a choice in taking on this role, and 55% say they feel overwhelmed by how much care they have to provide.
If you’re among those providing care for an elderly loved one, you know the emotional stress, physical strain, and financial toll this role demands. As an adult child turned caregiver, your plans, your job, even your own family become secondary to caring for your parent. Most adult children reach a point where they realize they can no longer provide the support their parent needs. The constant demands of providing physical and emotional support can lead to heightened stress levels and, in turn, various signs of burnout.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Recognize the signs of caregiver burnout and be proactive to preserve your own well-being while providing care for your loved one. Adult children may find themselves feeling persistent anger or frustration toward their elderly parent, experiencing heightened anxiety, denial about the parent’s condition, and struggling to complete their own daily tasks due to feelings of depression and exhaustion.
Physical manifestations, such as increased susceptibility to illness, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, irritability, insomnia, and withdrawing from once-enjoyed activities and social interactions, are all potential indicators of caregiver burnout.
If you’re experiencing any of the following, it may be time to consider assisted living to help with aging parents:
- Are you suffering from insomnia?
- Do you feel anger or frustration with the person you’re caring for?
- Are you withdrawing from friends and activities you used to enjoy?
- Are you in denial about your loved one’s condition?
- Are you too exhausted to complete your own daily tasks?
- Are you finding it difficult to concentrate, or becoming more forgetful?
- Are you more irritable and easily angered than is normal for you?
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of a loved one can be emotionally draining. Find time for yourself to recharge your batteries.
- Spend time in nature – Get some fresh air, take a walk.
- Connect with friends – Reach out to your social network.
- Do something you enjoy – Workout or go to the movies.
- Meditate – Start each day with a mediation.
- Join a support group – Share your challenges with other caregivers.
When to Consider Assisted Living to Help with Aging Parents
It’s not always easy to know if your loved one needs additional support. Look for the following signs to assess how they handle everyday tasks such as brushing teeth, buttoning a shirt, washing dishes, or driving.
A recent loss or gain in weight
If you notice a love one losing or gaining weight, they may not be eating well or are having difficulty cooking. Ask them if they need support with their meals. Look at their pantry and fridge to check for spoiled food and see if there is less food than usual.
Cuts, scrapes and bruises
Has your loved one had a recent fall? Do they hold onto furniture to maintan their balance? Are they having trouble getting up and down stairs or just moving around?
Unkempt appearance or surroundings
Uncharacteristic mess or disorganization might mean they’re not coping with tasks like clearing mail, washing dishes, or taking out the trash. They may have challenges dressing, bathing, or grooming.
Scratches or dents on their car
If you notice recent scratches or dents on their car, they may have issues driving safely. Blurred vision, confusion, and drowsiness while driving can result in crashes, near-misses, or a fender bender, even while parking. Take note if they’re asking others to drive or if they’re staying home more often.
Expired medications or unfilled prescriptions
Are they having trouble remembering to take their medications or mixing them up? Are they taking their medicine at the appropriate times of day? Check-in with their doctor to see if they’re staying on track.
Once you make the decision to find a higher level of care for your parent, reach out to your network for recommendations. Seeking support is not selfish; it’s essential. Lean on your family, friends, and healthcare professionals to help you navigate caregiving options for your aging parent.
How to Evaluate Assisted Living Communities
After identifying communities to consider, use the criteria below take the time to develop criteria to be able to compare assisted living options:
- Location – Is the community in a central location?
- Friendly Atmosphere – Do staff members seem friendly and engaging?
- Safety – Is there 24/7 security and an emergency response system?
- Cleanliness – Are common areas clean and are the grounds kept up?
- Services & Amenities – What is included in the monthly fee?
- Recreation – Is there a fitness center, pool, salon, etc. onsite?
- Dining – What kinds of dining choices are offered?
- Social Opportunities – Is there a calendar of events and activities?
- Vibrancy – What kind of services are offered nearby?
- Home – Can you picture your loved living there?
Transitioning to Assisted Living
Assisted living services can be the right choice for a loved one, and they can also help you restore the family dynamic, and regain your role as child, sibling or spouse. Your caregiving role doesn’t end, but it will take on a different dimension.