Becoming a caregiver for one of your loved ones can have a large impact on your life and will often change the type of person you are. Changes will occur not only in your work and social life, but also most likely in you. This is because becoming a caregiver, is usually a selfless act that will teach you a lot about yourself and about helping others. Usually the changes in your life and personality are positive. Caregivers are often more empathetic and compassionate people; however, caregivers also tend to struggle with negative consequences. The negatives many caregivers face include exhaustion, stress and even sometimes anxiety from the challenging work they face in their day to day life. Unfortunately, these stresses can affect your day to day life and personal relationships.
Becoming a caregiver requires a lot of work and the ability to be a decision-maker. Not only are you responsible for your life (and possibly the lives of your children and spouse), but now you are also responsible for an elderly loved one. Caregiving is a job that will help you to become more assertive and also one that will force you to make choices; however, it is important to note that it is not your job to parent your elderly loved one. Although they may need help, it is important to also allow them to maintain as much independence as possible, without taking over. This can be avoided by having discussions with your loved ones to see what they need from you and what they are able to do on their own.
As a caregiver, you are now responsible for keeping track of the things that are going on in your life as well as your elderly loved one’s life. It requires great organization when a person is depending on you to drop them off for an appointment, or make sure they are eating properly. For some people, this sort of organization does not come naturally, and it is a great learning curve. This can be a struggle at first and some may never be able to fully keep on top of everything. Implementing a system to organize everything can be a great help for yourself as well as your loved one.
Stress and Anxiety
Caregiving is a tough job and not everyone is able to do it. Some have a hard time taking on a caregiving role, while others find it comes extremely naturally. The job can require a lot of time and effort which can induce stress and anxiety. For those suffering, it is important to take care of yourself. You will be unable to do your job to your fullest potential if you are not at your best.
If you are a person who is able to overcome this stress and anxiety, caregiving can be an extremely gratifying occupation. It will help you to be more organized and to be able to be more assertive. These are qualities that will help not only in caregiving, but in your personal life as well.
Exercise is always an important aspect of a person’s life, no matter what age they are. For many seniors, exercise can be difficult because their bodies do not respond to movement in the same way. For seniors that do not have mobility issues, exercise is much less limited. Going for walks, taking exercise classes, swimming and many other activities are great for these seniors as they are generally low impact and prevent further injury to the body. For seniors that have mobility restrictions, creating an exercise regime is a lot more difficult. Although the increased difficulty may be discouraging, it is important for these seniors to find out an exercise plan that works for them.
It may be hard to get started on finding an exercise plan that works for you, but it’s important to figure out exercises that you are able to complete. When figuring out an exercise plan that works best for you, a good first step is to speak to your doctor about what they feel you will or won’t be able to do, or certain exercises you should avoid to prevent any injury. Your doctor will be aware of not only your mobility issues, but they will also be able to speak to any other health issues that may affect your ability to exercise. Your doctor will know how much exercise you are able to undertake and how much you should engage with on a daily or weekly basis.
Once you have spoken to your doctor, you will be able to evaluate and begin your plan for exercising. Motivation is a big factor in exercise for any person and a good way to keep motivated is to set goals for yourself. Exercise goals for seniors with mobility issues shouldn’t be unrealistic. This means setting attainable goals will help you to keep motivated and to continue with your exercise regime.
Here are a few types of exercise that work well for seniors with mobility issues:
Water aerobics: Water exercises are great because flotation devices can be used to assist seniors in floating whilst they still get to use the resistance. For example, for seniors who do not have the use of their legs, a flotation device can be worn to support their weight while still using their arms to move through the water.
Resistance Training and weights: The great thing about resistance bands and weights is that they require little movement and can come is various sizes. For instance, seniors can start out using 5 lbs weights and doing just a few reps a day and as they strengthen, they will be able to start increasing the weight or the amount of reps they are performing.
There are many benefits to having your elderly parent move in with you including being able to keep a closer eye on their well-being as well as being able to spend more time with them. Although there can be a lot of benefits to your parents living with you, it is an extremely large decision with many factors to consider. The emotional and physical needs of your parent should be considered along with the expense, and physical and emotional toll that living together will take on you. If you decide to have your parent move in with you, it is important for you to realize the scope of what is required of their care and how you will best meet any care requirements.
Are You Able to Provide the Necessary Care?
Not everyone is capable of becoming a caregiver and it is important to realize what sort of care your parent needs and if you are willing and able to provide it. If your parent has either a medical or mental health illness that requires the attention of someone who has medical training, becoming your parent’s caregiver does not necessarily make sense. Whereas, if your parent has minimal health issues and is still independent in most ways, the care required will also be minimum and you will be able to spend more time as a family in general, but still have your own space.
Can Your Home Accommodate Your Parent?
Many seniors have mobility issues and your home may not be modified in an accessible way. If this is the case, it may be a large expense fitting your home to include your parent. For seniors who are unable to climb stairs, a main level bedroom and bathroom will be required. This can mean costly renovations and also a significant decrease in common space within your home. Issues of privacy must also be considered to ensure that both you and any other family members as well as your parent feel that they have personal space.
Do You Get Along?
Many parent/child relationships can be strained and it is important to ask yourself whether you and your parent get along. Do you fight a lot, or have you always been on the same page? Although conflict can be normal, it is imperative that before moving your parent in with you that you evaluate your past relationship. Living together and acting as your parent’s caregiver will be a high stress situation and if you already have relationship problems, they are likely to be exacerbated when you live in close quarters.
The Rest of the Household
Although both your and your parent’s opinions on a potential move-in situation are key, it is also important to find out how the rest of the people within the household will be affected. Evaluate the relationships that your spouse or children have with your parent and make sure that this move-in is a good fit for everyone. Encourage your family to be open about their feelings to ensure that everyone feels their opinion is respected.