Caring for an Aging Parent

Increase in Number of Caregivers of Senior Citizens

Almost 10,000,000 adult children older than 50 are caring for their aging parents. The percentage of adult children has tripled in the past 15 years, which has resulted in 25% of grown children helping their parents by providing personal care or financial assistance.

Quite often you will hear adult children say they took care of me, and now, it’s my turn to take care of them. People live longer today, but they also accumulate multiple chronic diseases as they age It is not always easier to be a caretaker, so individual decisions have to be discussed and the nature of any disabilities must be taken into account.

Holding Hands

Source

My Personal Situation

I am one of those adult caretaker children as my husband and I care for my mother, who just turned 92 years old. We built an addition on our house seven years ago as my widowed mother had a below knee amputation. She is not a diabetic, but she had surgery on her ankle and poor quality medical care, which resulted in a MRSA infection in her bones. After the amputation she could no longer maintain her home, nor live alone.

While my husband had some reservations initially, he quickly came to love my mother and even cooks special foods for my mother. We had a surprise birthday party for her on Christmas Eve, which meant we had 27 people in our home on that night and 18 for dinner on Christmas Day. Family members came from all over the country, and my mother was truly surprised. This was a wonderful Christmas for all of us.

Shortly before New Years, my mother woke me at 3:30 AM because she couldn’t get her breath, and she had chest pain.

Emergency

I called 911 immediately, and we headed to the hospital. She was diagnosed with pneumonia, fluid on her lungs, a UTI and a mild heart attack. In the ER they put a BiPAP mask on her, which is a very tight fitting mask that forces oxygen into the lungs and pushes the fluid out.

Within a very few minutes her blood pressure that had reached new heights came down to almost normal, her heart rate dropped into a normal range and her breathing improved immensely. She wore that mask for 24 hours. I honestly thought we were going to lose her that night, but she is back home recovering and receiving home healthcare.

We are fortunate that the three of us have such a good relationship. I know of people caring for parents when things don’t go that smoothly. I am also grateful that my mother has no sign of dementia as she is able to pay her bills, fixes her own medicine correctly and still plays bridge.

Yes, I have been very busy with her care, taking her to doctors, coordinating her care and generally running errands. Normally these duties are not required of me. I do her laundry and most of the housework, but she washes dishes and makes her bed when she is well.

Life is not always simple because it’s very difficult for my husband and me to travel together, as we can’t leave her alone. Nevertheless, I am so grateful for every day that she lives.

Elder Care Program

Source

Pros for Caregivers

Even though caregiving is a burden, it is quite often undertaken with willingness and love. Some people even report and an increased satisfaction with life.

Many elderly parents still have an adequate income, so they are not a financial burden. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows many people to take 12 weeks off from work, without pay, to care for a family member without the fear of losing their job.

The Cons for Some Caregivers

Some adult children must quit their jobs or at least cut back on their hours to care for their loved one, which is a financial burden. It can certainly reduce their retirement savings. Additionally, adult children who provide care for aging parents may have their own health problems.

Research has shown adult children who are caretakers have more health problems, are more likely to suffer from the following problems:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Heart disease
  • Alcohol abuse.

Caregiveras are often so busy shuttling their parent to medical appointments and picking up prescriptions, in addition to sorting the medication into reminder boxes that they often neglect their own health.

I am very fortunate that my mother can still drive to some of her close appointments and manage your personal affairs, however, her recent illness has certainly interfered with the time I typically devote to writing. Plus, I have not been able to attend some functions that I enjoy. Fortunately, she has not been ill like this in the past and she recovering very well.

Caring for Elderly Parents - Recommendations and Resources

Importance of Caring for Yourself

It is very important for caregivers to have regular checkups, such as having mammograms, colonoscopies and general checkups. And ill caregiver can certainly not care for their elderly parent.

There are also support groups for caregivers that are specific to some situations. A good example would be a support group for people caring for an Alzheimer patient, as this is certainly more stressful than some other types of diseases. There are available senior day care centers that can help. You can drop your parent off for a few hours to give yourself some free time so you can live your life also. Siblings should also provide some of the care for the parent.

Summary - A Changing Environment

Lawmakers on the federal and state level are shifting funds from nursing homes to more home and community-based health services. There are retirement communities that offer in-home services, which range from housekeeping telemedicine. In addition, the number of assisted living facilities has grown substantially and are often built on the same campus as nursing homes.

© 2014 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 55 comments

Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Pamela,

This is a very important article, one that everyone should read, Thanks for publishing it.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi Pamela, I am so glad that your mother is doing well. My brother was the main carer for my parents for at least five years. It made him so ill because we just couldn't get the help that we needed. The doctors opinion was that if we can do it then they don't have too! over here the care homes are coming in for some really bad reviews. Carers are hitting patients, or pinching them, and so on its awful! the trouble is when we see the ones who have done it on the tv news they look like the kind of people you wouldn't even want near you! who the heck employs these people? great post, and voted up!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

That's quite a number...ten million! I've done this...and when I was a kid my parents did it with one of my grandmothers. Is it easy? No, but I'm sure it wasn't easy raising us,either. :) An important article, Pam; well done.


pochinuk 2 years ago

Pamela,

"..they often neglect their own health...

This is a concern of mine as one who gives home health care. I am aware of the warning signs ad small red flags that announce "neglecting our own health" for the "health-care" of others. My work was not with my relatives, my folks are still spry for their age. I have witnessed the decline of health in others caring for others, and on a personal level have been able to be an encouragement to others. I have also seen the success of relatives, knowing this fact, have orchestrated their very lives to successfully apprehend their situations and all have gained vitality!

You posted a video on another hub, about "Geese Fly in V formation." Nature does teach us, and I believe society will gain information from the natural world to help "send down two" to help the one. I plan to keep my ear out for the honking in this regard, and want to be a part of this formation.

I see your Hub as your honk in this regard.

Thank you for taking the time to share.

Keep in formation. Don't neglect your health.

-Christine


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

I took care of my mom as long as I could and it was hard for me too to get out as often as I would have liked too, but I worked around it a lot by giving her medicines and breakfast and letting her go back to sleep for a couple hours every morning. May not seem like much but those couple hours a day whether I used them for necessity or just relaxation meant a lot as I am sure you would understand. It is so good though your mother being sound mentally and still active, that is just great!

My Mom passed away three years ago and I will never wake up to not think of her. I only hope she knew how much I loved her.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Daisy, This is a situation that most people will have to consider unless their parents die at a young age. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nell Rose, I image those five years were really difficult. I hate the thought of the elderly bring abused.I can't imagine why anyone would employ those kinds of people. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Billy, Of course, it is not easy, but worthwhile to know your loved one is well-cared for. Thank you so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Christine, I am sure you have seen both sides when working in the home health care business. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jackie, I have no doubt your mother knew how much you loved her. When we remodeled out house my mother got her own living room, so you can watch the older TV programs she enjoys. She sits and crochets quite often sitting in her chair watching TV. She typically asks me for very little during these times. I try to get some rest and relaxation each day. I know she won't be here forever, so one day at a time I can cope with my sweet mother. Thanks for sharing your situation. Much appreciated.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Pamela, I am glad it turned out well for your family. My sister was just admitted to a nursing home long-term. It is much better if homecare is an option. I love how your family is united in helping your mother maintain her quality of life. Blessings.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

I am so glad you had such a wonderful Christmas and your mother is well and recovered from her brief illness! She is blessed to have you for a daughter. Thank you for sharing this important information. Up and more and sharing. Blessings, Faith Reaper


Sam-Wright profile image

Sam-Wright 2 years ago from Albany, New York

I find your hub very useful and informative as well. Taking care of an aging parent is challenging and hard especially if she is suffering from a serious condition such as Alzheimer's. I do agree that there are also pros in taking care of an elderly but you must focus in its cons first. Caregiving will eventually lead to burnout and stress which will greatly affect your efficiency as a caregiver. So it's important to know your limits and have regular checkups in order to maintain good health. With the recommendations and resources you've shared, I'm sure a lot of caregivers will be encouraged to watch out for their health in order to be fit and efficient.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Diana, We are fortunate, and I know many elderly are just not well enough to be cared for at home. It is certainly a topic that requires conversation between all the family members when the time comes. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Faith, Thank you so much for your comments. Blessings to you also.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Sam Wright, I agree with your comments. Caretakers can easily burn out over time and it is helpful when other family members assist in the care. I appreciate your comments.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Very nice and thoughtful hub!

Elderly and Aging Parents must be taken care of by everyone in the family. They need our love, care and attention, because for us, they sacrifice their whole life.

Wonderful hub! Voted up!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Pamela, It is so good of you to personally take care of your Mom and I can relate to the difficulties that presents. You are doing an honorable thing - the toughest job there is. So sorry to hear of your Mom's recent illness but I'm glad she is getting better. The Christmas family gathering will be one remembered for lifetimes and well worth the work you put into making it happen.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 2 years ago

Your article is vitally important. I never faced this issue because my parents died very young. Although it would have been a challenge to care for them, I would have considered it a privilege. Voted up useful and interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Chitrangada Sharan, I think that is true, and I wish everyone felt that way. Thank you so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Peg Cole, I think that will be a Christmas remembered by all. Thank yo for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Patty, I am grateful that my mother has lived so long. I think my father would have been a little more difficult to take care of, but I would have also been glad he was alive as I still miss him. I appreciate your comments.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 2 years ago from Arlington, TX

Pamela - You are obviously a saint. I will never have to go where you went as I lost my mother at a young age. I have met people recently who told me how emotionally and financially draining it was to be in the position you find yourself. But they did it out of that love that only exists between parents and their children. Hopefully that will continue as we all grown older.

The Frog


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

When parents get older it is difficult to cope with the circumstances and not every child has the time to take care of them. This is a great hub and so helpful to many readers.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a useful article, Pamela. So many of us have to face the problem of how best to care for aging parents. I'm glad that your mother is recovering from the scary episode that she experienced. I hope she remains as capable as she is now. Take care of yourself as well as your mother!


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

Hi Pamela99,

You are so lucky to have your mother this long. I lost my mother when she was 66. That is such a young age, and I still miss her so.

You are blessed with such a good and understanding husband, and your mother is also blessed to have you.

May 2014 be the best year ever for all three of you.

Bobbi Purvis


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Frog Prince, I am certainly not a saint. My mother has income and health insurance, but even more importantly she is considerate, loving and does not interfere in our business. I think our situation may be easier than some of the other people dealing with there parents. I know many people have great difficulty when they are caretakers for their elderly parents. It is not simple, but it is my choice. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

DDE, Some people must work and some parents are difficult to care for as they age. It sure is a growing trend as people live longer than they used to. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Alicia, You are right that many people will have to deal with this problem. I appreciate your good wishes and your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Bobbi, I am sorry you lost your mother when she was only 66. I appreciate all you good wishes and I do thinki I am blessed to have an understanding husband and a wonderful mother. Thank you so much for your commetns.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

I really can relate to your situation. I cared for my mother after she had a C.V.A. it affected her cognitive skills and it was difficult at times. She had another C.V.A. and was hospitalized in a coma. She passed away after forty days. I miss her everyday. Thank you for sharing your story. You are blessed to have her for so many years. My mother died at seventy two...


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Pamela,

This is a beautiful combination of your personal experiences and valuable suggestions.

I know you will never regret a moment you spent loving and caring for your dear Mom. Your husband is a sweetheart to be so supportive.

Excellent writing from the heart. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Very important hub here Pamela, as this effects so many people. My wife and I cared for my parents in their final years. The most demanding aspect was on our time and our ability to go places together, as you have found yourself. Well written. Voted up.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS

Excellent! You've described the realities of caring for an elder person so well. I was living far away so didn't get to or have to care for my parents when they were elderly. But my husband was 10 years my senior and I cared for him in his waning later 7 years. Compared to many situations of elderly care, it was mild, I'm sure, but it involved many of the demands and some of the stresses you mention. I'd do it again if I could have had him with me longer. Though it was demanding, it didn't feel like a burden, in exchange for having him with me. He suffered progressive dementia and memory-loss, but still maintained a cheerful attitude and was able to converse. It began with a near-fatal heart attack so his physical limitations were gradually increasing, but until the very last, they were not total, just limiting.

You are so right that one must care for oneself, both physically and emotionally, as a care-giver. Being one has taught me how to independently care for my own self as I'm aging, in fact, which is another side of the coin.

Thank you for writing this valuable article, Pamela!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I'm sorry your mother died so young. A CVA is difficult at best. My husband had one at the age of 59, but it was mild compared to your mothers. He can function very well, but his sense of balance is not great.

Thanks for sharing your experiece and your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Maria, I do not think I will regret any of this time either. I appreciate your comments so much. Much love to you.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jodah, I agree with you as to the most demanding aspects of being caretakers. It is ideal if you have siblings that will help, but most of our family does not live nearby. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nrllieanna, Your husband's diagnosis can be difficult and my father suffered from mild dementia in the last year before his death. He also lost most of his vision after a particular medical test, and my mother lovingly cared for his every day. It is interesting how something postive can come out of something that is difficult. You know how to take care of yourself, so you can live independently, which is wonderful. Thank you so much for your comments.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I am pleased that your mother is recovering very well at home and is receiving home health care. She is lucky to have you as her daughter, Pam. I think many of us can relate to this extraordinary hub…I was the primary care giver for my mother for several years before she passed away due to cancer. I still miss her terribly. I wish I could underline your segment on the “Importance of Taking Care of Yourself.” This is so very true! Too often, we overlook our own health in so many ways. Voted up and sharing. :-)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Genna, I have known people that have become very ill following the death of the loved one that cared for. It seems like thy endure exactly what they must, but don't take care of themselves. Then, the loss comes and the body is no longer stressed, but illness has been ignored I think. I am sorry to hear of your mother passing away with cancer. Thank you for sharing your experience, for the comments and the share.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

We are getting much closer to this reality as both my parents and my husband's parents are reaching and passing the age of 80. They are having more health issues, and we are monitoring them closely, allowing them to remain in their own homes as long as possible. It helps to see what others have done in these situations.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Denise, I can't imagine caring for 4 parents in my home. Of course, many couples move into assited living facilities and there are other options as well. Hopefully they will maintain in their homes with some help and guidance from you. It seems there are so many people facing this situation today. My mother would have stayed in her home longer is she had not lost her lower leg, but we have been fortunate in working out the details. I wish you the best of luck and I apreciate your comments.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

It is so good to read of how well your mother is doing and to see positive reinforcement on the topic of in home care giving for the elderly. Not all situations would allow it, but what a wonderful thing when it is possible. The issues of placing the elderly in a home are huge, and far outweigh the issues of having them in home when possible.

Hope we'll be seeing more and more of this kind of encouragement, along with details on how to access help that is often needed to keep parents out of nursing homes. Anyone who thinks they want government health care should take the tine to visit a medicare/medicaid facility at odd hours for about a month to see for themselves what is happening.

All that aside, bravo to you and your husband, and bravo to your mom for being an example of not giving up and sitting in a corner in her later years! Happy birthday to her, though it is belated.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

RTalloni, I agree with you about the issues of placing the elderly in nursing homes are huge, but there are some situations that really require more care than a relative can provide. There are many sub-standard facilities also, plus many are cost-prohibitive. Thank you so much for your assessment and comments. I appreciate the Happy birthday for her.


raymondphilippe profile image

raymondphilippe 2 years ago from The Netherlands

Thanks for sharing. Personally i think it can be quite a burden. And to add to the troubles you might find yourself being responsible for a dependable parent and a special needs child. Luckily most of us do not have to deal with this difficult combination.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Raymond,A special needs child would certainly make caring for an elderly parent much more difficult. I hope that doesn't happen too often. Thank you for your comments.


lyns profile image

lyns 2 years ago from USA

Excellent hub on caring for the Elderly, this day and age more of us are faced with this task, the information you gave in here is much needed. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day. lyns 6/28/2014


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

lyns, Yes, my mother is 90 and has congestive heart failure. I would rather care for her than put her in a nursing home though. Many people have to make those tough decisions these days. Thanks so much for your comments.


lyns profile image

lyns 2 years ago from USA

@Pamela99, that is really good that you are helping your mom and have the mental ability too, I find that awesome. You are more than welcome, have a good one and hands up to you for caring for your mom, that is comendable


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Lyns, Fortunately my mother has no signs of dementias. I think that would be very difficult. My husband loves her also, which makes things so much better. Thanks for your comments again.


lyns profile image

lyns 2 years ago from USA

@Pamela that is so wonderful she's 90 and still have all her senses that is a blessing, and very good you have support of your husband. You are are very blessed to have each other. Take care of yourselves and your mom. lyns 7/1/2014


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

lyns, Yes, I believe we are very blessed. Thanks so much.


lyns profile image

lyns 2 years ago from USA

Yes you are, and you are welcome. lyns 7/1/2014


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Sam, I think taking care of a patient with Alzheimer's would really be very stressful, depending on how advanced the disease is at the time. Thank you so much for your very kind comments, and I hope you are right about encouraging caregivers to take care of themselves.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Sam, I appreciate your comments and I hope this hub will cause caregivers to take good care of themselves.

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