Do You Have What it Takes to Care for an Aging Parent?

by Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC, Aging Life Care Association™ Member and
Fellow of the Leadership Academy

 

This month, the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP released a landmark study – Caregiving in the U.S. 2015  – that provides new insights into the landscape of our nation’s caregivers and the challenges they face. Are you prepared to be a caregiver?

Have you been wondering if you have what it takes to care for your aging parent? Many adult children stumble into their role with little preparation, knowledge or support about

caregiving, aging
Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 is a joint research study between the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

how to manage all of the complex issues of care. This can set up well-meaning family members to feel like failures. Many quickly experience frustration, feel drained, guilty, helpless or completely burned out.

The role of family caregiver demands a lot of time, patience, and persistence. Those who start with realistic expectations, reach out for help and plan ahead fare much better through the ups and downs than those who don’t. Becoming a caregiver for your family member should be planned for carefully.

Take This Quiz to See if You Have What it Takes to Care for an Aging Parent

Yes No
1.  Do you have a handle on your parent’s financial situation?
2. Have you created a plan for your own financial safety net in case you have to cut back work or stop working all together to help your parent?
3.  Does your parent have her/his estate documents completed, do you know where the documents are and have access to them (power of attorney, advanced directive and will)?
4.  Have you discussed your parent’s end of life goals openly with her/him and feel ready to implement a plan to support those goals?
5.  Have you made arrangements for regular respite breaks and created opportunities for self-care that are sustainable over the long-run?
6.  Is your home (or your parent’s home) accessible for someone with decreased mobility even if your parent’s mobility is okay now?
7.  Are you ready to provide personal care, help with toileting, showering and grooming if your parent needs help?
8.  Do you have the full support of your partner, your own kids, and other family members? (Meaning, they are all willing to provide regular respite breaks so you can take a break every week.)
9.  If you have them, are your siblings in favor of the plan and ready to help you by providing financial and hands-on support if needed?
10.  Are you able to take criticism without personalizing it and becoming angry and resentful?
11.   Do you have a clear understanding of your parent’s medical conditions and have you received some training about how to manage them?
12.   Have you hired an Aging Life Care™ manager as a coach to help you navigate challenges that occur during every caregiver’s journey?

Even if you answered no to just one question, you could benefit from the help of an Aging Life Care™ Manager.

What’s an Aging Life Care Manager?

An Aging Life Care manager is a professional with years of experience helping people like you navigate the transitions of aging.  She can assess your parent, give you a clear picture of his/her abilities and help you understand his/her individual needs as a senior adult.  An Aging Life Care manager can also help you make heads or tails of somewhat confusing issues like long-term care options and end-of-life decisions.  She can provide you with information about appropriate support systems and service providers. If you get stuck, she can step in to facilitate and help improve family communication; help you nudge your dad into accepting more help; and find creative solutions to keep your mom from forgetting to take her medications.  Working with an Aging Life Care manager also means creating ways to enjoy periodic breaks from your parent-care responsibilities.

Through all these tasks, your Aging Life Care manager becomes your very own trusted consultant, ready to listen and help you problem solve and deal with anticipated challenges as well as those crises that appear out of the blue. Find your very own Aging Life Care manager at aginglifecare.org.

About the author: Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of the Aging Life Care Association. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @JullieGray, or email her at jgray@agingwisdom.com. Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

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