When Living with Your Elderly Loved Ones No Longer Works
Caring for an elderly loved one in your home may sound like a great idea but it can be a huge commitment you may not be prepared for. In hindsight, it can improve family ties and allow your loved one to be cared for at home, but it may also cause caregiver burnout.
Read a family caregiving story below while uncovering different methods to care for aging parents, and learn expert advice about what to do when living with your elderly loved ones no longer works.
From one home to another: Eleanor’s story
Carrie and Alan Moise were starting to lose sleep every night.
After Carrie’s aging mother, Eleanor moved into their Georgia home from her retirement community in Florida, she frequently awakened the couple, at all hours of the night asking for strange requests. To Eleanor, the needs were pressing, but Alan didn’t understand why she kept asking to leave the house or that she needed to go home.
Eleanor’s growing care needs and repeatedly knocks on the couple’s door at night were taking a toll on their marriage. Tension and anxiety also increased as it became hard for the couple to decide on caregiving roles, while their alone time reduced tremendously. The Moise’s, like many adult children who choose to care for aging parents, thought having their elderly parent close would keep them in a more comfortable, safe environment which would ultimately make their loved one happy and prevent traveling back and forth between states.
“It seemed like a great idea at the time,” says Carrie. “But we just didn’t know what it took to really care for my mom.”
It might be a good idea to ask yourself the following questions if caring for an elderly parent or loved one in your own home makes you overly anxious:
- What kind of care does your loved one need? Maybe you’re okay cooking and doing laundry, but not as comfortable bathing your loved one or helping them use the bathroom. Or maybe they require care beyond your knowledge. If you’re not able to provide this kind of care, it may be time to consider home care or assisted living
- How is caregiving affecting your marriage or your children? Out of a recent study of family caregivers, up to 80% report increased strain on their spouses and other roles with children and friends.After their adult children moved out, Carrie and Alan grew accustomed to their newfound privacy and freedom. However, when Carries mom moved in, all of this vanished. “We fought more and more every day,” says Carrie. “Everything turned into a complicated disagreement.”
It is also possible you could be on the road to caregiver burnout if you are experiencing certain signs.
Ultimately keeping an elderly loved one at home would be ideal for both the senior and their loved ones. But this is not always the case. Caring for a loved one can cause mixed emotions and without the right education and right tools at home, you could be on the road to caregiver burnout. It’s not taken lightly as psychologists define it as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved stress.” By the time most caregivers suspect burnout, they’re already suffering myriad symptoms.
In retrospect, caring for aging loved ones seems like a good idea
Caring for Eleanor at home wasn’t vital, but it seemed like a good idea to Carrie. Her mom would receive some social interaction from family and friends, plus, they could form a closer bond than in previous years.
Before moving in with her daughter, Eleanor had grown depressed and isolated as her late husband (Carrie’s father) was the reason the two stayed social for so long. Without him around or really any close friends or family, Carrie felt concerned for her mom. What if she became too isolated and lonely that she would decline mentally and possibly even physically? What if she fell while she was alone and could not get back up? Who would check on her if they were so far apart?
Adapting to living with elderly loved ones
At first, Carrie and Alan had trouble accepting the continuous late-night disruptions. However, the couple’s situation improved after they agreed to work as a team, make adjustments, and follow caregiver advice such as:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. More than likely, your friends or other family members want to help. If you need some alone time, see if they can be there for your loved one while you two get away for the weekend or even the day.
- Make time for yourself, and for your loved one if possible. Similar to #1., try to find time, if it’s early in the morning while your loved one is sleeping or a night out on the town, this will help you recharge. Also, use these top tips to relieve caregiver stress as well.
- Accept that some things don’t change. This is pretty self-explanatory but saying it out loud will help. The best thing you want for your loved one is quality of life and safety measures in place.
- Set boundaries. This one can be tough if your aging loved one has Dementia or memory impairments, but if your loved one understands the house rules, it’s important to stick to them. For those that have Dementia, there are several ways to help redirect them and allow them to sleep through the night.
- Recognize it’s tough, and you’re doing your best. You got this! While it is definitely trying at times, the best you can do is try your best. If you feel you are reaching your breaking point, you are not alone in this journey and there are options available to you. Contact a Senior Advisor to learn more about support groups and other resources available.
When Living with Your Elderly Loved Ones No Longer Works
Like Carrie and Alan, it’s certainly achievable to turn a tough living situation with an aging loved one into a successful living arrangement. Caregiving can sometimes be too much, or the one doing the caring may develop health issues or simply, their happiness is at risk.
Use these tips to help you discover what are the best ways to help your loved one while also saving your relationship with your spouse:
1. Ask your parent how they feel about the arrangement.
Don’t assume your elderly loved one will be heartbroken. Staring the conversation may seem like the hardest part, but once you have it, you will feel relieved. Even if you both do not come to an agreement, getting it off your chest is important and there are still other living arrangements that can be made.
2. Address challenges of living with aging loved ones/Suggest other living arrangements.
Make sure to share the difficulties you may be facing as well. You might focus on the lack of privacy you are experiencing or the fact that you cannot properly care for them. Then discuss possible solutions and work as a team to find a resolution. Consider bringing in-home care, or offer respite stays at assisted living to test out the waters if you will. You are not locked into a lease and cannot leave at any time.
Plus, your loved one can make friends and have a social life of their own! It may sound scary at first but as a senior advisor, I cannot tell you how many times families have told me how much their loved one has changed for the better once they loved to a senior living community.
3. Prepare yourself psychologically.
If your aging parent has a history of being manipulative, argumentative, or overly dependent, seek support from a geriatric care manager. A Care Manager can be an advocate for you but also be that non-biased support to help you both come to an agreement. Here at North Star, we have geriatric care managers who can come into the home or be there virtually for you.
4. Don’t feel guilty.
This is the biggest reason that keeps families from not doing anything about their situation, leading to caregiver burnout, resentment, or event health issues that developed over time. Deciding against living with your elderly loved ones doesn’t mean that you love them any less, or that you’re avoiding your responsibilities.
You may have promised you would never move them into a community, but if you cannot mentally and physically take care of yourself, you will not be able to properly care for your loved one. It may be that they can stay home with help but your health and wellness should also be a priority as well. Help them find a new living situation that benefits you both and show your support throughout the move.
Start the process today and learn what options are out there to help care for your aging loved one. There is no obligation, and you can learn about several resources available for seniors in the community. Call to speak with an experienced Senior Advisors or Care Manager today at 407-796-1582 or visit www.northstarsa.com. There, you will find a plethora of educational video topics under our Video Gallery to browse at your leisure and learn about how we can help!