Providing in-home care for aging loved ones often seems like a good idea at first. After all, who better to provide care for them than someone who already cares about them? Plus, it’s believed to be more cost-effective (although that is often a myth). There are no pesky background checks to do on home health aides, no complicated insurance or tax issues. It appears to be the perfect solution.
Except when it isn’t. A number of problems can arise when a son or daughter provides in-home care to an aging parent or other relative. Read on to find out what they are.
When you’re helping an elderly parent with things like feeding, dressing, etc., it can lead to a strange feeling of role reversal. After all, these are things they were doing for you on a regular basis when you were small. It can be awkward, to say the least, when they’re switched around. And even though your loved one may need the help, that doesn’t mean they’re comfortable accepting it. Don’t be surprised if your mom or dad gets irritated when you have to do things for them. In their eyes, it’s just another reminder of the less-than-positive effects aging can bring.
Facing parental mortality
You may be used to thinking of your parent as strong, capable, and powerful figures. That’s why is can be disconcerting seeing them so powerless that they can’t even lift a fork or spoon to their mouths. Sometimes, you don’t realize how frail they actually are until you have to help them with such basic things.
Seeing parents in intimate situations, like bathing or toileting, can be embarrassing for both the child and the parent. It’s one thing to acknowledge that your parents have needs like everyone else; it’s quite another to have to tend to those needs up close and personal.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you care about your elderly loved one, it is simply not a substitute for medical training. If you’re not an expert on how to provide home care, administer injections, clean wounds, or similar tasks, your loved one may be at risk.
When nearly every moment with your loved one revolves around home care, it can create tension between you two. Your primary roles of loving parent and child are superseded by new identities as caretaker and patient. Such stress can even be a factor in a senior’s declining health.
Recipe for stress
When caregiving is provided on a constant basis, it can create a great deal of stress for the caregiver. There are only so many hours in the day, so you may find yourself helping out your mom or dad at the expense of your own health, well-being, free time, family, job, and more.
Consider in-home care by a professional
As you can see, when a close family member provides in-home care, the arrangement often leaves a lot to be desired. At present, you may be doing it to save money, or because you fear your loved one will receive poor care in the hands of a “stranger.” Unfortunately, such good intentions may backfire, and lead to a more unfortunate outcome than if you’d just gone to a professional at the outset.
Professional in-home care is frequently one of the most cost-effective options for seniors – and one that can keep them in their homes in the long-term. In addition, a quality agency will take care of tasks such as screening, background checks, insurance, bonding, taxes, and similar issues. This greatly increases the likelihood that your loved one will receive the best care possible by trusted experts.
Consider skilled in-home care to preserve your loved one’s dignity and autonomy. It will also mean a lot less stress for you, with more time to spend on your own needs and goals. Finally, it may preserve the special relationship you have with your parent – one that is based on mutual love and affection, and not just caregiving roles.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.