The relationship we share with our parents can be very complex. Love is unconditional but that doesn’t mean that relationships are smooth or even loving. Too often, adult children are faced with taking on a caregiving journey without the feeling or support of a stable and loving relationship with their parents. That’s okay. Parent and child relationships aren’t black and white. Yes, there are some that are loving and good and there are some that are abusive and bad but what about the grey in the middle? What about the relationships that are still unhealed when memory loss strikes these are the relationships…these caregiving relationships I want to talk about and share helpful resources validation, and support to aid your caring journey so that both you and your loved one are not left with a burden of guilt or emotional pain during or after the caregiving journey.
There isn’t just one timeline for memory loss. Those who experience it range in their lifestyles, age, and class. This means that many of us are taken by surprise when the first signs of it start to kick in, and the caregiver (the person who was already offering a light hand) is suddenly the number one contender to take on the role. Whether willingly or not if you choose to become your loved one’s caregiver you are signing up for an unexpected caregiving journey.
Another reason why making a plan is so important but we can discuss this more in my next video. It is all too easy for one trip to the doctors to turn into every trip and without a plan in place it is also easy for the caregiving experience to sweep you up and carry you away without even realizing it.
Understandably with lives that are filled with other responsibilities, it is hard to recognize when a helping hand becomes formal caregiving. So the first step is to identify how much of a commitment your caregiving experience is having on your life. Here are the 5 Stages of Caregiving
- In the first stage, the caregiver is bringing their loved one to the Doctor’s, checking in via phone calls, and/or occasionally picking up groceries;
- In stage two, the caregiver is providing the functions of Stage 1 as well as, scheduling appointments taking their loved one to the appointment, and grocery shopping every week.
- In stage three, the caregiver is providing the functions of Stages 1 and 2 as well as, providing light housekeeping
- In stage four, the caregiver is providing the functions of Stages 1-3 as well as providing physical care.
- In stage five, the caregiver is providing the functions of Stages 1-4 as well as providing memory care.
The impact caregiving has on your life depends on a variety of factors that really all just focus on you. What’s going on in your life when you start to assume caregiving responsibilities? What is your relationship with your parent in need of care? Are you already providing care to someone else in your life? Then most importantly and often overlooked what is your emotional bandwidth to take on this role? How is your mental health? Do you have enough room on your plate to take this on?
Checking in with yourself is such an important step and while sometimes life doesn’t offer an alternative option – meaning you are the only option – recognizing where your mental state is and understanding that things on your plate will need to start being prioritized will set you up to handle the various levels of care your loved one needs.
It is important to note, that stage 1 can very quickly turn to stage 5 and often the person there in stage 1 becomes default for all stages. If you recognize that you are not emotionally or mentally prepared for that part of your responsibility as the “light” caregiver is going to have to be delegation. Whether that looks like asking your brother or sister to help or hiring an aide to help there are no wrong answers as long as it gives you the mental bandwidth to maintain what you have already decided to commit to.
Watch my YouTube video on this topic
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