3 Questions to Ask Before Becoming Your Parent's Caregiver

After the devastating toll of Covid-19 in long-term care homes, many Canadians are thinking about becoming their parent’s primary caregiver. After all, they loved and cared for their children, that’s us, most of our lives, so they deserve the best possible care. Here are three questions that you should ask, as you think about taking on this role.

1. Do you have the physical and emotional capacity?

Caregiving is a very physical job. Here are a few of the common tasks that you may need to take on as your parent’s caregiver. How will you:

  • Help mom or dad into the bath or shower, and helping them to bathe.
  • Pick them up if they fall.
  • Assist them to get up and down stairs, and support them to get out of and into bed.
  • Look after the chores that they are unable to do any more, such as cleaning the house.
  • Keep an eye on them when they wander, or encourage them not to do something they no longer have the strength to do.

As with all caregiving, it is important that you look after yourself as well. Many people can strain muscles and cause themselves an injury by not taking adequate precautions when lifting or supporting a senior. This is particularly true if your parent is not in a position to help you help them.


Lifting Dad Into Bed

However, it is often the emotional stress of caring for a parent that can be the hardest. It can be a roller coaster of emotions and very difficult to see our parents suffer. We often have less patience with our own family members than with friends or professional carers, so don’t be surprised if your parent gets more frustrated and angry with you than they do with other carers. It is important to learn not to take things personally, especially if they are suffering from dementia.

2. Do you have the time and flexibility?

Time Caring For Parents

Many of us underestimate how much time is involved in caring for someone else. Giving someone else a shower, for example, is a much more involved process than when we do it ourselves! Some days may be better than others, so it can be important that you have the flexibility in your own schedule or at your job, so that you can take extra time when needed.

Eventually your parent’s situation may need almost constant supervision. What are the implications for you and your work, and your other family commitments? Equally moments can be very precious for you to spend with your parents, and a chance to both reminisce together and to create new memories. There are lots of benefits about being your parent’s caregiver too!

3. Do you have the skills needed?

What is mom or dad’s medical condition? Some care needs can be quite simple and easy to master; others less so. All conditions change over time. Be ready to spot these signs of improvement or deterioration and to make sure they receive both the support and the professional medical supervision that they need.

Some conditions change our behaviour, and a previously gentle parent can become angry and even violent. You may be able to discover what triggers these episodes and avoid them, but sometimes this won’t be possible. If they have particular needs, such as wound care, you may also need to bring in a professional. If mom or dad is prone to wander, or if they lose cognitive functions that make them more susceptible to fraud, and are you able to be around to protect them and their assets?

Parent's Caregiver

Other Options

Why not share the responsibility? If there are particular tasks which are more onerous, or particular times of day when they are more challenging, why not bring in a professional caregiver for those jobs? This way you may be able to give more of yourself when you are caring for them.

Why not focus on enjoyable times with your parents? It is not selfish to want to spend quality time with your mom or dad, and to delegate some of the other jobs. Sometimes it might be more relaxing and less stressful for everyone, if a professional caregiver takes responsibility for some jobs such as bathing, housekeeping and toileting, and you spend time talking, laughing or going to gentle walks together.

Why not take a break every few months? There are different respite options, including bringing in a caregiver to their home, or a short-term stay in a retirement or supported living home. Plan these into your routine and you are less likely to suffer from exhaustion and burn out.

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During this pandemic we know you want to reduce the risk of infection. That’s why our number one package offers exclusive caregivers, who only work with one client.

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