by Joy Loverde
In Part I & II of Keep an Eye on the Family Caregiver, we discussed that there are no blueprints in caregiving and we each must find our way. We also looked at the importance of keeping a realistic view of our demands to make sure we don’t sabotage the caregiving process. Let’s continue taking a look at caregiving and make sure we are taking care of ourselves to better help others.
Are you a walking time bomb?
Is your life already filled to capacity? Are you currently handling major, time-consuming obligations between parenting, your own career, and other commitments? How much time can you afford to devote to your elders? Eldercare requires patience, and tolerance for this kind of work may not be part of your emotional makeup. For example, if you’ve never assisted an older adult with bathing and dressing for the day, you may not realize that this seemingly simple activity could eat up the better part of the morning. What might be your reaction to an elder who asks you the same question over and over again in a matter of minutes?
Are you thick-skinned?
Disappointment, loneliness and frustration come with the job of caregiving. Your circle of friends may start to shrink; siblings and relatives will find excuses to keep their distance from you and your elders. Are you good at deflecting criticism? Can you bounce back after a hard day’s work? Can you forgive others for their shortcomings? Are you willing to get help if you suspect that you are becoming increasingly depressed?
Are you an effective money manager?
Eldercare is a bottomless pit of ongoing expenses. Beyond health care, there are other eldercare-related costs that will quickly drain the money supply: senior housing, special diets, medications, transportation, and more. Are you proactive rather than reactive when it comes to managing money? Will you seek financial advice? Will you stick to a budget in order to avoid a family financial crisis? Are you willing to talk to other family members about paying for long-term care?
Is it possible that you will have to quit your job to perform eldercare duties?
Most people cannot afford to give up their own primary means of support. Are you willing to research your company’s work-life eldercare programs? Will you be risking your job security by being candid with your boss about your eldercare situation? If your employer offers work-life benefits are you making good use of them now?
Once you know where the caregiving roller coaster is going, are you still in for the ride? Millions of us are facing this question. We all have limitations -- getting help is the smart thing to do. Sometimes love is best served when we do not place ourselves in a position of resentment.