Q: My elderly mother now requires more care than community services are able to provide in her home. My siblings seem to think since I am retired and widowed I am the logical person to move in with Mom and provide the additional care she needs.
I feel like they are all ganging up on me. I am not sure if I am physically and emotionally strong enough to take on this responsibility. How do I make this decision?
A: It is currently estimated over 40 million individuals are taking care of one or more of their family members who are ill, disabled or aged. Each person’s circumstances may be different. Odds are the caregivers would agree to some extent this can be a rewarding but equally stressful experience. Caregivers may assume this new role willingly, others may find they are required to respond in an emergency and some like yourself may fill pressured to get involved.
There are numerous important traits a person should possess if they are going to be successful in providing quality care to another individual. Routines may get interrupted, the care recipient may be uncooperative and basically things just don’t go as planned.
Patience and flexibility will be essential. A caregiver should have compassion. The ability to be empathetic means there is a basic understanding of what the other person is going through.
A caregiver needs to be attentive in noticing changes that may be occurring especially when the individual is unable to communicate what is happening to them. There are times the tasks may be unpleasant. Everything should be done to preserve the persons’ dignity.
A caregiver must be self-aware of their own limitations and reach out for support when needed. As you mentioned good physical and mental health will be necessary throughout the caregiving journey.
You should have an open discussion with other family members about what help they are willing to offer if you decide to accept this responsibility. Give careful consideration to the potential of becoming your mother’s primary caregiver, this must be the right fit for both of you.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.