While many people shake their heads at the idea of adult children living in their parents’ basements, many parents are reversing this trend and moving into their children’s homes. As the population ages, caregiving responsibilities for parents in their golden years often fall to their children. However, it can prove stressful to care for a parent while struggling to find a healthy work-life balance and manage other responsibilities.
For many aging Americans, living with family is their best option for maintaining some independence and avoiding the need to move into a nursing home or other care facility. By caring for their parents at home, children can minimize the cost of elder care, ensure that their parents are surrounded by loved ones, and enjoy more peace of mind that their needs are being met. As one in 10 seniors report incidents of nursing home abuse, the threat of substandard care in a facility is very high.
There are many good reasons for caring for your elderly parents at home, but that doesn’t mean the reality of being a caregiver is always easy. If you’re preparing to move one or both of your parents into your home, here are five tips for balancing your many personal and professional roles.
1. Give Your Kids More Responsibility
One of your roles as a parent is to teach your children how to manage responsibilities. Taking on new duties will help them develop vital life skills and teach them how to manage their lives independently. Helping out with more chores around the house or in caring for your parents is a great way to gradually build up the number of responsibilities they have.
Obviously, these responsibilities should be tailored to the child’s age and maturity. A small child can learn to tidy up after themselves, while slightly older children can help with the laundry or cooking responsibilities. A teenager may be able to drive their grandparents to the occasional appointment. Helping with the care of your parents will also help build the bond between your kids and their grandparents.
2. Develop a Support Network
Caregiving can sometimes feel like thankless work, and it can be very isolating if you feel like you don’t have any support or you can’t take a break. This is why developing a support network to help you when you start to feel frustrated or overwhelmed can be very helpful.
A support network should consist of several kinds of people. Healthcare providers, support groups, and individuals who are caring for an elderly family member themselves can all help you in caring for your parent and their specific health concerns while also providing emotional support.
3. Keep Things in Perspective
While it can be very taxing to work, raise children, manage a home, and care for an elderly parent all at once, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Not only are you providing the love and care your parents need, but you’re also teaching your children valuable lessons. Being able to take in a parent in their time of need is something very special.
It’s also a good idea to remember that the transition period is often the hardest. Once you settle into a routine, things will typically get easier. Plus, nothing lasts forever—the circumstances may change at any time due to a number of factors.
4. Find out How Your Job Can Help
You might assume that your job won’t be supportive of your new responsibilities, but you won’t know until you talk to them. Start a conversation with your managers and test the waters a bit. Some employers are very understanding and supportive, while others may not be so sympathetic. Either way, it’s important to know where you stand in terms of your job.
5. You Don’t Have to Do It All
It can be tempting to micromanage as a caregiver. Not only will this burn you out, but it might also make your relative feel a little resentful. Remember, most older people want to maintain their independence for as long as possible. You’re there to help, but you shouldn’t hover.
Take a step back. Figure out what’s really necessary and what they can manage on their own. Use digital tools when possible to reduce the number of tasks you need to keep track of. Everyone will be happier with the situation if you’re not constantly fretting and fussing.
Breathe and Take Care of Yourself
It goes without saying that caring for elderly parents is often challenging and emotionally taxing. When it comes to caregiving, learning how to adapt and prioritize is crucial. It’s difficult to juggle several different intense responsibilities like working and caregiving and you have to figure out which activities are essential and which you can let go.
Remember to breathe and take care of yourself. Find small ways to unwind and care for your physical and mental health. You’ll have less anxiety and you’ll be better equipped to keep up with everything you have going on.