Caring for my parents was a much bigger job than I ever imagined. I always said to Mom, I would be there when she needed me. We were not expecting Dad to have a brain injury and 7 years later Mom to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Dad recovered somewhat and lived in a care home for 15 years but Mom stayed at home in her apartment for another two years after being diagnosed and before moving to a care home. As a dedicated daughter I say you are very fortunate if your parents are healthy but who can predict how life will unfold.
If mom or dad has a disability, or a chronic illness or two, you had better brush up on your time management and co-ordination skills because adult care can be extremely consuming and stressful. Our lives are multi-dimensional and this can become a balancing act especially if you are managing parent care, have a career, children, and a spouse and want to stay connected to friends and look after your own health. Some seniors’ health care responsibilities you will encounter are; managing doctor’s appointments, specialist appointments, follow-up appointments, blood work and urine tests, dentist or denturist appointments, eye care and hearing aide maintenance and repairs. If mom or dad take a number of medications it can be an overwhelming job in itself making sure they are taking the correct medications at the correct time.
Closely related to health care issues are dressing, eating, toileting, bathing, and preparing for bed. These are all considered activities of daily living and when we manage our own lives we often have to make lists and schedule around these activities or necessities. As an adult caregiver of mom or dad, you may have to do the grocery shopping, planning and preparing their meals and actually making sure they eat. Consider this picture and decide, will you have the ability, the time energy or desire to be there on a daily basis to make this happen? Will you be there to help Mom or Dad prepare for bed, to bathe and toilet them? You may be a natural at this role but if not, it may seem like a major endeavor.
Often times there is a very slow progression in health before getting to this required level of care but whether it’s fast or slow it can be a drain on your emotional, mental, physical and financial state as well as on your personal and business relationships. Plan ahead and think about managing on your own or planning to pay for support. Written by; Barb Kirby Seniors Advocate and Consultant. For more information, go to www.seniorsadvocate.ca or call 604-876-3906