Two neighbors were chatting, and one asked the other how she’s been doing after her mom’s stroke. The neighbor often heard the other neighbor leaving for the hospital very early in the morning. She also knew about the care needs of the dad, who had dementia.
The other neighbor admitted she was feeling overwhelmed. As the medical power of attorney, she felt the pressure of making medical decisions, being on-duty at all hours to help her dad, and being present at the hospital.
She wasn’t sure she could keep up. In addition to the dozens of daily to-do tasks, she had to maintain a calm emotional state and be the leaning post for her parents.
Does this sound familiar? When was the last time you looked at your dad’s care needs in terms of your health? If you’re doing everything for your parents and little for yourself, it’s important to change that. It’s time to build your team.
The Goal of a Team
Why is a team critical? Caring for aging parents is emotionally challenging. Even if they’re always cooperative and upbeat, it’s hard seeing your parents’ abilities change. As much as you don’t want to think of them struggling to do things like cooking their meals, driving a car, or doing their own shopping, the day will come when they need help.
With a team in place, you have an emotional support system in place. Whether your other family members are involved or have professional caregivers, you have someone else available to compare notes, vent frustrations, and celebrate unexpected moments.
A team also ensures you have days off when you need them. If you’re the primary family caregiver and wake up feeling sick, you shouldn’t help your parents out. First, you need time to heal. Second, you don’t want to make them sick. They may not bounce back as quickly as you can.
How Do You Build a Team?
Where do you start? Talk to the rest of your family and any close family friends. You want to see if anyone is willing to help out each month. Your brother may have Fridays off and be happy to spend the day doing meal prep for the next week. Your cousin may be willing to pick up your mom and bring her along on grocery shopping day.
Discuss the things your parents cannot do without assistance. If they need medication reminders, that’s a daily task. If they need someone to do the laundry, that’s a weekly task. Create a care schedule that fits their requirements. Plan accordingly from that care schedule.
When you don’t have anyone to help with your parents’ care needs, call a home care agency. You want to have home care aides fill in gaps as needed. This way, your parents never have to go without, and you don’t have to reschedule your pressing appointments and responsibilities to make sure you’re free.