Someone once said that “the hardest part of growing up is realizing your parents are growing old”, and that is true. Caught up in our hasty day-to-day, we often don’t have enough time to take a careful look at the new wrinkle on their face, and we miss the moment when they stop being able to do the house chores or even remember to turn off the oven.
When that hits us, it hits us hard. You’re no longer just their child – you become their caregiver, and this new role brings a lot of changes into your life. Suddenly you need to have your ringtone on all the time, you need to leave work early to take them to the doctor, you need to spend extra money on their care, and you need to deal with the stress of it all.
Being prepared for the upcoming battle is the best thing you can do, so here are a few changes you will need to handle to prepare for aging parents.
Your career is on stand-by
It’s possible to be successful at work while taking care of a parent, but it will be a lot harder than before. Most caregivers need to cut their working hours, sometimes even by half. Some of them find it hard to find common ground with their managers. Some are just not focused enough to perform their daily tasks.
There’s no universal solution that can address all of these concerns, and your situation will largely depend on the nature of your job, your role at the office, and your relationship with your boss.
Nevertheless, the most important thing is to start by being honest with your supervisor. Hiding your caregiving role and trying to operate as usual is neither good for your mental health nor for your position at the company. Try to see if you can work some shifts from home and if your company offers any caregiver support options.
Your finances are “attacked”
Being a caregiver can take a toll on your finances. You’ll need to buy food and medication, pay for the checkups, hire a nurse, and similar things. Depending on the condition your parent is in, perhaps you’ll need to obtain special equipment or some type of aid.
When the time comes that you need to take on the role of the caregiver, assess your financial capability and see if other family members can contribute. Talk to your partner about these expenses. Have an honest conversation with your parents to establish whether they’re equipped to support themselves financially. They might need to consider downsizing their home. Check their insurance and tax relieves.
Your parents become your priority
Our parents are always important to us, but they’re not on the top of the priority list when it comes to taking care of someone, because they were always the ones taking care of us. And now, that is changing.
Your job is to make your parents’ lives easier by providing them a safer home, your company, and your help with whatever they find necessary.
You will have less time for your partner and kids
On a regular day, you would come home, prepare dinner, sit and have a meal with your family, talk about their day, and get some rest. However, there will rarely be a regular day now. You’ll need to check up on your parents, take them to their doctor’s appointments, help them clean their house, and so on.
The best way to handle this situation is to talk to your family honestly and to try to do these things together. The kids can visit regularly to enjoy quality time with their grandparents while you and your partner take care of the house chores, for example.
You will need to learn to seek help
No one can do everything alone. Especially when your life is turned upside down. If you try to deal with a thing this big all on your own, you’ll probably end up stressed, anxious, and too exhausted to accomplish anything. We’re so used to relying on ourselves that we easily forget that asking for help is the most normal, human thing you can do when faced with a problem.
The first people you should talk to are the ones closest to you. After them, turn to the people closest to your parents. Ask your siblings and cousins to check up on them on some days. See if their neighbors can bring them lunch or visit them and keep them company.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Always try to find some ‘me time’, get enough sleep, and eat healthy, because if you burn out, nothing you do will matter.