9 Caregiving Beliefs that Damage Families

 

  1. “Mom’s in assisted living. Everything is okay.”affordable home care companies assisted home care in Minnesota at home caregivers care for older people companion home care services for seniors elder care in Minnesota

Assisted living and nursing homes are helpful tools to help ensure that your aging parents are safe and having their needs met. They are not, however, a full solution to all of a senior’s needs. Assisted living facilities, for example, do not ensure that your parent is receiving enough exercise, getting involved in activities, or ensuring there is no out-dated food in their apartments. They may not even take the responsibility for dispensing and monitoring medications.

It’s important to check in regularly to see that everything is going well. Check for old food, help with organizing mom’s apartment, and periodically check in on medication arrangements to ensure mom’s needs are being met. Also check to ensure mom is getting involved in social activities and not isolating herself in her room.

 

  1. “We take care of our own.”

This was a damaging mantra for one family where the mother had chronic illnesses. It created an expectation of ongoing sacrifice from their two children. When one daughter moved out of the country to escape the constant demands and expectations, it created resentment with the remaining daughter who felt required to meet all of mom’s needs.

Families can still take care of their own and rely on outside help, whether it be for occasional respite or regular assistance with bathing, homemaking, or meal preparation. Just as a mother might order takeout to feed her children, rely on an accountant to prepare taxes, or hire a neighborhood boy to shovel snow, a family might “take care of their own” by having eldercare at home or accepting assistance from friends or extended family to assist in caring for an ailing family member.

 

  1. elderly home care service home care services for seniors citizen care home help for the elderly home assistance respite for caregivers non medical senior care taking care of elderly parents“We don’t need help.” / “We don’t have any problems.”

Sometimes it is the adult children who are the last to realize when an aging parent needs help. Sometimes it is the parent who is the last to realize it. Either way, not facing the reality of a situation can be damaging.

This attitude can happen when a parent is the last to admit their own age-related limitations. It can also happen when adult children—often caught in the sandwich generation—are unable to see the signs that there are problems.

It often takes an emergency to prompt action—dad might face a debilitating fall, mom might get in a car accident, or the daughter caring for them might end up burned out and facing health issues of her own. The best decisions are those made to prevent crisis, not those made in the midst of crisis. Facing limitations with honesty and communication can prevent a crisis before it happens and allow seniors to stay independent at home.

 

  1. “We’ve never had help before.”

It can be scary to have friends or strangers in your home to help out. It’s hard to know who to trust and hard to expose your home to other people’s judgements. This can be particularly difficult after a season of illness where the house might be messier or more disorganized than it’s ever been.

However, there is a first time for everything! By using respected in-home senior care providers, you’ll find non-judgmental senior care professionals who have seen about everything and understand the challenges of aging. In accepting assistance from family and friends, you open yourself up to a community of support and love; everyone understands rough times, and the people who love you won’t judge you for them.

 

  1. “We can’t afford help.”

Many people work their whole lives to save for a rainy day. When the rainy day arrives in the form of age-related decline or physical disability, it can be difficult to “afford” care, even when they have saved money for years. In particular, this can be the situation for seniors who grew up during the Great Depression, when every penny was dear.

Sometimes, to remain living safely at home, seniors do need to spend money in order to adapt their home for reduced mobility, to have physical therapy, or to hire home help for the elderly. Spending money to maintain independence and physical health is a good investment when compared to the more costly alternatives, such as assisted living, a nursing home, or a prolonged hospital stay.

After all, people save money for retirement to ensure that their needs are met as they age. When you reach a rainy day, there’s no use keeping the umbrella in a cupboard for safekeeping.

For more information on options for paying for non-medical senior care services, read our article “Who Pays for Non-Medical Care?

 

  1. affordable home care companies assisted home care services for seniors in home care Minneapolis St. Paul in home help for seniors non medical senior care eldercare at home elderly home care service“I’m the only one who can help.”

Sometimes there are many children in a family who want to be involved in caring for an aging family member, but there is one sibling who dominates, pushing aside others who want to be involved. Ultimately, this puts one sibling on a course for burnout, and it also shortchanges the aging family member from having well-rounded care. It is better for all involved to share the duties of caregiving when possible.

 

  1. “Our kids will take care of us.”

Americans lead busy, busy lives. Many families require two incomes to survive, and the challenges of raising children, working full time, and taking care of elderly parents can be difficult to juggle. Usually, children are happy to help out and sacrifice for their aging parents however they can, but as parents face dementia, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, and chronic illnesses, it can simply be impossible for adult children to meet all of their parents’ needs. It becomes more difficult when parents expect their children to meet all of their needs and refuse outside help from extended family, friends, or home care companies.

As one of our caregivers learned, the need to help elderly parents while setting healthy boundaries can leave a gap in care for an aging parent. Read about her experience in “A Caregiver Sets Her Boundaries: A Daughter’s Story.

 

  1. “I don’t need help. My husband does.”

It can be tough when one parent insists on doing all the work and another is ill and dependent. The result can be an overwhelming burden that is hard to wrestle away from the independent parent. Not only can this lead to burnout, stress, and physical deterioration, it can cause strife that damages the relationship between the parents and the adult children.

To combat this, it can be helpful for the adult children to emphasize the need for the ailing spouse to have help, saying, “I know you don’t need help, but Dad does. Let me come and help him.”

For additional ideas, read “8 Tips to Ease the Burden for Spousal Caregivers.”

 

  1. eldercare at home help for the elderly home assistance elderly homje care service senior companion care for older people at home caregivers help for senior caregivers respite for caregivers non medical senior care“I don’t need to get involved. My sister takes care of everything.”

It can happen in families where one child ends up bearing the brunt of duties related to caring for aging parents. It’s a sort of bystander effect, where everyone watches one sibling do mostly everything, and the sibling doing everything wants help but can’t get it. It can be particularly frustrating when it happens in large families, where there are many hands to make light work . . . but there aren’t any hands to be had.

The result of this is damaged sibling relationships and resentment. It can also be damaging to relationships with parents since they see some children helping a lot and other children missing in action.

This is a difficult problem to solve since it can be hard to motivate others. One key is for the primary caregiver to voice his or her need for help. It can be helpful to be honest in a way that doesn’t blame or insult but is also specific. For example, shooting an email that says, “I am so stressed helping mom. Can you pick her up next Saturday or Sunday and spend the day with her?” is a good place to start.

 

Carol Hauser, MA

 

November 11, 2015

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