Being a Family Caregiver For a Parent
Jul 14, 2020
At a certain point in life most people are going to have to decide whether or not to become the caregiver for a parent. Here are some tips to help you decide and to make the most of it.
Prepare for the Role Reversal
For many, it’s an odd experience to suddenly become the caregiver of a parent. They take over responsibilities that were once managed by the parent. Now, they have become the disciplinarian, telling their parent what they can and can not do. They manage finances for their parent or have to take away privileges like driving.
Oftentimes, parents will feel resentment for having to be taken care of or for feeling like a burden to their family. In these moments it’s important to see their perspective and be more patient with them.
It can be a difficult transition if someone is not prepared for it. Luckily, there are support groups available for caregivers to share their experiences and relieve the stress of becoming a family caregiver. These groups can empower caregivers and help with anxiety and depression.
Remember to take care of yourself
Being a family caregiver is tough. It will drain you physically and emotionally. When you are feeling depleted there is not enough energy left to properly care for your family member, which is why it is important to always take care of yourself.
Make sure you reserve time each day for yourself. Do activities you enjoy with people who you are not caring for. Talk with these people about the troubles you are having. Finding a group of other caregivers will be immensely helpful in realizing you are not alone in this journey.
When others offer their help, take it. Do not let your pride get in the way of your mental health. Be willing to clearly communicate your needs to friends, family and your doctor. You can not receive help if no one knows what you need help with or if you are not willing to receive it.
It’s important for your own mental health to set healthy boundaries when it comes to your aging family member. You want to care for them the best you can and at every moments but you will find that is impossible to do if you do not set boundaries and care for yourself.
The boundaries you set need to be strict otherwise you will easily ignore them and become overwhelmed. For instance, stop taking non-emergency calls from them after a certain time at night. This will allow you to set aside time each day for yourself rather than being on-call 24/7.
Another boundary to set, is keeping your job while caregiving. Not only does this make financial sense but also allows you to keep your sense of normalcy.
Having a discussion with your parent will help both of you to understand these boundaries so both of you feel respected.
Get Paid to be a family caregiver
Family caregiving can become a burden physically, emotionally and financially. However, there are methods of getting paid for caring for a family member.
Medicaid recipients can receive self-directed Medicaid services for long-term care. Each state offers their own programs and details vary by state, but generally each program follows the same steps:
The person you will care for is assessed for capacities, need, preferences, risks and strength as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires.
Your family member creates a written service plan detailing the daily living assistance required.
If the assessment shows need, a budget for goods and services will be provided.
When the care plan is set, the care recipient, or a surrogate if needed, chooses a caregiver.
Military veterans have several plans they may qualify for including Veteran Directed Care, Aid and Attendance benefits, Housebound benefits, and Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
You can find further information regarding VA Caregiver support via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair site.
When to say No
However difficult it might be, it’s important to understand when to say no. We want to take care of our family members the best we can but sometimes it becomes impossible to juggle the responsibility of caregiving with the responsibilities we already have.
These conversations tend to happen far too long into the caregiving process when the caregiver has realized the burden they have taken on. This is why it is important to have conversations about boundaries, financial support and your relationship before becoming the primary caregiver.
When you have decided that being a family caregiver is not possible, it’s important to discuss options for choosing a caregiver.
Becoming a family caregiver is not an easy step to make and it is not for everyone. Determine what is best for you and your parent when making a caregiving plan.