ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Choosing to Be a Caregiver to an Elderly Parent

Updated on August 13, 2015
A day at the mall with my mom Mary and my son Ari.
A day at the mall with my mom Mary and my son Ari.
My mother Mary with me as a baby on my first Christmas.
My mother Mary with me as a baby on my first Christmas.
My mother Mary (the oldest in the middle) and her siblings grieving as orphans.
My mother Mary (the oldest in the middle) and her siblings grieving as orphans.

Caring For An Elderly Parent

Many people reaching their 40's and 50's not only worry about their own health and well being, but also that of their aging parents. When a parent grows old and is no longer able to do for themselves roles can be reversed. A few reasons why an elderly parent's living arrangements must change are their diminished ability to see, hear, and decline in all around health. An elder's condition and their financial situation most often determines the choice of a nursing home or living with an adult child.

LOSING INDEPENDENCE

In our situation, my mother Mary was a very independent person her whole life. The first thing that shattered her world was that her vision was impaired due to Macular Degeneration which took away her ability to see clearly and drive. Although she was considered legally blind she could still see in quite a bit, but not in detail. Being labeled as blind would not get in her way and she was still able to get around either by bus, plane, or by someone driving her. Along with that, traveling was still something she did a lot on her own. She continued to live in her own home and managed to do everything except read her own mail, which was usually done by family or friends.

Then in 2005, the second thing that drastically changed her life happened, she fell and fractured her thigh bone. This was a terrifying time especially for her because she knew things would permanently change. This incident caused her tremendous pain, as well as permanent limited mobility. Her mobility was limited to walking short distances with a walker, or being accompanied with a wheelchair. She was no longer able to go places and travel freely like she used to. Due to this fall and from getting older she has more ailments to add to the list, like most elderly people who suffer similar circumstances.

THINGS HAVE CHANGED FOR OUR WHOLE FAMILY

It has been since 2006 that my mother has been in my care. I am her only child and I had two choices, either to put her in a nursing home or to take care of her myself. This has been a challenge since the beginning due to not knowing exactly what was involved. My husband has been supportive with my decision to care for my mother all along. That made my decision easier and less stressful to make. As time went on, I saw that there are so many duties involved in caregiving and at times it was overwhelming. Let's just say that I took on many jobs when I decided to become my mother's caregiver such as: cook, driver, financial advisor, property manager, nurse, appointment setter, etc...

Being my mother's caregiver is very time consuming and a demanding job. There are no shifts or holidays off. However, I have no regrets in caring for her. It is a blessing that she is still alive, able to communicate, and able to walk a bit even though it is with a walker. I am glad to have her around as my son is growing up. She teaches him much about her life and that of her siblings surviving as orphans in war torn Greece. This experience enriches our life and hers as well. We give her love and show her that we are still there for her.

In an article written by NPR's Marilyn Geewax, it stated that nearly 10 million people over the age of 50 are caring for their aging parents in America. This was from a study conducted by Met Life Mature Market Institute in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the New York Medical College. Furthermore, the article reports that this is due In part to the increase in human longevity and with the rising costs of Nursing Homes. It's unbelievable that there are so many people taking care of an elderly parent. However, it is becoming the norm.

THERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU MUST KNOW IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A CAREGIVER:

  • Know that this is a full-time job without shifts or vacations.
  • Try to cut down on some of the work yourself by hiring out for bath visits, meal arrangements like Meals on Wheels, and if possible Adult Day Care.
  • Know what your limits are!

You gain experience through trial and error. Over time you will see what works for your parent's needs and for yours as well. This might change over time for many reasons. Accepting that your parent's health can change for the worse at any time is something to keep in mind. Therefore, having an Advance Health Care Directive is very important in order to make medical decisions on behalf of your parent. Each state has different requirements for drafting one. Discussing this with your parent and drafting an Advance Health Care Directive while they are able to do so is part of your duty as their caregiver and necessary.

© 2013 Panorea White

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Panorea White profile image
      Author

      Panorea White 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you!

    • Lovely  C profile image

      lavenderLove 2 years ago from Philippines

      GOD Bless you..indeed you are very lucky to still have her..would have done the same thing if only I was given a chance...our parents deserve all our care and support..I salute you...

    • Panorea White profile image
      Author

      Panorea White 3 years ago from Los Angeles

      In home care is great, especially when an elderly parent wants to stay in their own home.

    • profile image

      Candice Harding 3 years ago

      It can be such a difficult process to find proper care for an elderly family member. My family was truly blessed by the help of an in-home caregiver for the last year of my grandfather's life. The in-home care allowed him to remain in a comfortable, familiar setting, while ensuring he got the best care possible. My grandmother could not have done it alone.

      Candice Harding

      http://www.handlewcare.com/?main_action=content&am...

    • Panorea White profile image
      Author

      Panorea White 3 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello Sam and thank you for your input. Yes, it is a big obligation I agree. However, if you are efficient at it and the whole family is happy it is well worth it. That being said, regarding whether or not this may be something a person wants to do can be determined by cultural differences as well. Sometimes when it's cultural differences it has little to do with finances. If some do not understand certain traditions and cultures they may not to agree with such an arrangement. However, it is ingrained in my upbringing to assume the role of caregiver and I have no complaints in doing so. Gratefully, my spouse has the same feelings as I do about this.

      Moreover, whenever I may need additional help, be it for house cleaning or bathing visits, I do hire out. As for my mother, she has a social life at the church that she attends every Sunday. We go out together practically on a daily basis as well. She also likes to get her hair colored and cut at the salon once a month and I also take her for a manicure and pedicure twice a month. I make her favorite Greek dishes and sometimes she likes to help chop the vegetables. She has expressed to me quite often how happy she is and how all of her needs are met.

      Furthermore, I hope others that want to care for their parents find my hub somewhat helpful. I can't speak for others, but for me I wouldn't have it any other way. I was just speaking from my own point of view. By the way, your links are great and I have read one of them in the past. Believe me I have done lengthy research on the topic for years now. Having cared for my mother since 2006, I consider myself an expert caregiver by now. The length of time my mother has been with us is mentioned in my hub. Also mentioned in my hub is if a parent's health worsens, changes in arrangements may change as well. It all depends on each individual situation.

      Again, I appreciate your concern and I hope if you have parents you were able to make the appropriate arrangements for them and for yourself. If you haven't been in that situation yet I wish you luck when you do have to make those decisions.

    • Panorea White profile image
      Author

      Panorea White 3 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you for your kind words! Many Angels and blessings to you as well. Thanks for sharing your experience. There are many people trying to make the huge decision of whether to care for their loved one. I think for those of us that have been through it, we have a lot of knowledge to share and help others make an informed decision.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      I do so know. I became the care giver for both of my parents for nine years. My daughter and I moved home to live with them and care for them. they remained pretty active; doing gardening, visiting with neighbors, taking care of their personal needs for most of those years. gradually they became unable to do those things and more and more became my job. Long story short, I understand. My father died and my Momma came to live with me as we sold their home. For a while she was able to stay alone while I was at work but soon that became impossible. She went to live with her sister nearby who was retired and in good health. Then Momma became unable to care for herself and we had to put her in a nursing home. I have written about that experience here on HubPages. It was a very positive experience. I wish I could have kept her at home but I had no way to care for her and work.

      Bless you as you care for her. You will never ever be sorry. I never regretted caring for my parents even though it cost me an important relationship. Nothing was more important than they were. Many Angels and blessings are on the way to you and your family. ps