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Becoming A Caregiver For A Parent: 5 Tips For Getting Started Helping Your Aging Parents

Becoming a Caregiver for a Parent: 5 Tips for Getting Started Helping Your Aging Parents

As your parents age, you may find yourself extending more help to them with daily tasks. Even if your parents are relatively healthy and mobile for their age, getting older can come along with all kinds of changes and challenges that make support from family members more important than ever.

Whether your parent has rapidly lost mobility due to an injury or diagnosis or you’ve slowly become the first call when they need help with something, you’re now in the position to consider becoming your parent’s part-time or even full-time caregiver. 

Before you jump into this role head-first, it’s important to consider all sides. This includes the benefits of the arrangement as well as the drawbacks and what to expect from day to day. 

The Benefits of Caregiving for Your Parents

There are some benefits to enjoy when you care for your aging parent yourself, which is why many adult children decide to do this. If you already have a positive relationship with your parent or want to work on your bond, caregiving will ensure that you spend lots of time together. 

Once your parent has passed away, you will likely feel grateful that you were able to spend so much time with them while you could. 

Hiring a professional caregiver is often expensive, especially if you need someone to live in-home and look after your parent at all hours of the day and night. Acting as their caregiver yourself is a great way to save thousands of dollars every month. 

Additionally, you will likely develop a variety of useful caregiving skills, like administering medication, that could come in handy in other situations. 

5 Must-Dos Before Becoming a Family Caregiver

Working as your aging parent’s caregiver can be a very rewarding experience. However, it doesn’t come without its challenges. This position is time-consuming and, at times, emotionally exhausting. It’s essential to consider the role from all angles. 

Make sure to follow all of these steps before you begin caring for your parent. This way, you can fully step into your role feeling prepared and focused on the positive impact you’re creating. 

1. Determine Your Availability and Bandwidth

Depending on your parent’s current health status and needs, they may only need you to stop by once or twice a day. Conversely, your parent may need someone there to assist them around the clock. Once the needs of your caregiving situation are determined, it’s time for you to assess your availability and how much you’re able to give.

If you have a family of your own to take care of, you may simply be unable to provide your parent(s) the care they need by yourself. 

Additionally, caregiving can sometimes require a great deal of physical strength, such as when the person in your care falls and needs help getting up. In this case, you may need to find another family member to share the responsibility with or hire a part-time caregiver when you’re unavailable. 

2. Discuss It With Other Family Members

Whether you’re relying on help with caregiving from other family members or simply letting them know what’s happening, it’s important to make sure all of your close family members are on the same page with your choice. 

If you have young children at home, you’ll need to discuss taking on this role with them, as well as your spouse, before you begin. Your new responsibilities could affect your ability to show up for them in the same way. 

3. Set Boundaries but Expect Changes

When you’re entering into a new phase of your relationship with any family member, knowing your boundaries is essential. Otherwise, you could end up in a situation that makes you feel resentful over time. Know how much time and energy you are willing to extend on a typical day.

However, keep in mind that emergencies or unforeseen circumstances could require your boundaries to bend. Being a great caregiver is all about going with the flow and being there when you’re absolutely needed.

4. Set Aside Time for Self-Care

It’s impossible to provide the level of care you want for your aging parent if you never take time for yourself. 

Keeping up activities like spending time alone, seeing friends and other family members, exercising, and enjoying hobbies will help you maintain your well-being while helping you to be a better caregiver. Additionally, doing things that you love and taking time away from work will help you to avoid burnout. 

5. Look Into Support Groups

Depending on your circumstances, you may be the only person in your immediate circle caring for an aging parent. This can become a very isolating feeling, which isn’t good for your mental health.

Make sure to take the time to look into local support groups to see if there is one for people in your specific situation. You might be surprised how much of a difference having a community that understands your struggles can make. 

Keep Your Parent Safe and Happy with In-Home Care

Remember why you’re considering becoming your parent’s caregiver — you want them to be as happy and healthy as possible as they enjoy their golden years. As long as you plan responsibly, set boundaries, and maintain your self-care, your caregiving relationship with your parent(s) could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. 

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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