The first and real question about caregiver challenges, is not are there any, but rather where to start.
Most of us that fall into this category really do not plan for it.
In the vast majority of cases it is a choice that needs to be made very quickly for the safety and concerns of one of your parents.
Or in our case, one of my wife’s parents, and it was indeed a decision that had to be made very quickly.
Caregiver challenges can fall into several different categories, but for simplicity sake, they can be boiled down to two categories—what you should do and what you should not do.
In additional to these two basic categories, there are also five certainties that anyone that makes the decision to undertake this task will face.
They include the following:
In our situation, my wife had to make a decision in a 3 day time frame. There was no doubt in our minds that her mother would have been dead if we did not move quickly.
So we moved, and fast.
Caregiver challenges really start once this decision has been made and you are now filled with the reality of what you just undertook.
This is not like adopting a child or having one of your children move back in with you. This is an elderly person who in most cases has little mobility, and is or could be quite sick.
In our case it was both. She was 76 years old at the time, could walk with a walker, but mentally something was wrong. She also had very little money left, so we had to make those decisions as well.
Caregiver challenges also include how it will totally, and I mean totally, change your life and lifestyle.
We have all gone through this when we are first married and our first child comes into our life. But this is not a new life that will change, grow, and fill you with laughter.
This is someone that now depends totally on you. It will be difficult for friends to come over and entertain. It will be difficult to go out and eat.
It will be difficult to do almost anything the way you used to do it.
It will also test your relationship. I bought in 100% because of the example my father in law had set by taking both of his parents in at the same time.
But caregiver challenges must include the relationship. It was quite interesting at first as my mother in law, especially when we were first married, did not like me.
And I did not particularly care for her. That changed over time but it was still strained. The spouse of the mother or father must buy in 100% or it will not succeed.
However, the most important aspect in caregiver challenges is YOU MUST take a break. That break can be for a day, 2-3 days, or a week.
But you and your spouse must take a break. In order to do that, you will have to set up a network of who to reach out to.
There are also some things in dealing with caregiver challenges that you need to understand are OK, natural, as well as what you can do.
They include the following, and trust me from experience, we went through these and everyone we talked to in the same position did as well.
There are numerous caregiver challenges besides these, as anyone that has ever done it can attest to, but these were the major ones for us.
At this point take the first point-being scared and rethinking. If you are not, as we were told from someone with a lot of experience, you are not human.
You have made a commitment and it is bigger than you thought. But so was getting married, having children, supporting them, and we survived that.
If you do not feel lost at times, get mad and upset the way things have changed, again you are not human. All of us that have done this went through those same feelings.
None of us are prefect, we all make mistakes.
You will learn very quickly and the way we got over this was the fact that we cared and what if someone else didn’t care—would your parent still be alive?
If you do not want to call it quits at some point, again you are not human.
Caregiver challenges also include want it is NOT OK to do and includes some of the following.
First, you are not a servant, and you do not have to do everything yourself-period!
When we first took in my wife’s mother in, we both worked and paid someone to care for her during the day, and we took over at night.
However, we were not real happy with this, so my wife made the commitment to set her career aside and do it full time.
We also made it clear to our children that she was now part of our home and when they came for the holidays, they actually enjoyed being around her for the first time in years.
Caregiver challenges also include getting mad and upset when other family members would not, or could not help.
We made the decision fully understanding this going into the arrangement. Once you make the decision, move on past this fact.
Caregiver challenges are real.
But so is seeing the smiles on your parents face when you walk them in your garden and they smell the flowers and when they see their great grandchildren the first time.
Those smiles offset everything.
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