Who Cares for Mom?

In caregiving on August 30, 2011 at 2:06 am

There are so many challenges facing sibling caregivers today. Studies show that daughters are more likely than sons to become caregivers. Geographic location rules and siblings are the greatest source of help for caregiving, but they’re also the biggest source of interpersonal stress.

When a parent’s health fails and help is necessary, who steps up? Usually it is the child who lives the closest. This in it self causes tension between siblings (resentment, anger and misunderstanding). For most of our lives our parents were the ones that made the decisions and had all the wisdom; we were the children and it was easy. When caregiving of a parent becomes necessary, gone is the old parent/child relationship we were used to. It becomes necessary for us, the children, to set up and become the parent (so to speak). Most of us don’t plan for this day, it is much easier to put it off for sometime in the future. Unfortunately the future sneaks up on you and voila! Before you know it you are caught unprepared to deal with taking care of a parent. Caregiving doesn’t just change your life but it changes the lives of your family. There is no magic solution however the choices you make have a profound impact on the outcome of the entire situation for everyone involved. One of the major decisions in caregiving is where does your loved one live and who is the primary caregiver?

The Options:
-Move your loved one in with a family member to make caregiving somewhat easier. This can save money and travel time. The negative to this is the stress it can put on the entire family and if no one is home during the day your loved one is still alone. If this is the case an adult day care could be an option if your loved one is healthy enough. Adult day care facilities provide socialization and allow your loved one to remain active.
-Allow your loved one to remain in their own home. Home Health Providers can fill in the gaps and provide companionship, transportation, medication reminders and do all of the caregiving necessary to allow your loved one to age in the comfort of their own home. People usually do much better in their own homes and this option can be a cost-effective alternative to hospital stays or skilled nursing facilities. It can get expensive if around the clock care is necessary and specialty services are required.
-Assisted Living Facilities provide housing, support services and health care to persons needing help with daily activities. They provide a social setting and staff around the clock in case of emergency. Unlike a Nursing Facility, residents must be able to leave the facility in a an emergency situation (mobility is required). Stable health is required and only limited health care or treatment is available. This option is usually very expensive and there are times that a loved one may still need additional caregiving outside of the facility staff.
-Nursing Centers provide health care services to residents who need regular or continuous care. Medical, nursing, dietary, recreational, rehabilitative and social services are provided. This option can also be very expensive but is a safer alternative if your loved one is in poor health. The mental state of your loved one should be considered as a nursing home is usually viewed by the resident as a “final destination”.

Caregiving decisions should involve the entire family including the family member needing the help. If everyone is on board with the decisions made, life will be much less stressful for everyone, your loved one will be happier and your chances of squabbles and hurt feelings among siblings will be greatly reduced. If you choose to become the primary caregiver, please make sure to make time for yourself. Don’t give up your hobbies or all of your social life. This will increase your stress level which could jeopardize your health. Most of all, have a plan!

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