Becoming a full time caregiver to an elderly parent is taking on a role that can deplete your emotional, physical and mental health. This is especially true when caring for a parent that has dementia as it is very difficult to separate the person from the disease when hurtful things are said or they strike out physically. Old wounds and pain from the parent/child relationship are often revisited as resentment builds over the time and energy depleted by caregiving. Many people go the caregiving journey alone, wondering how they would find the time or energy to join a support group. But one of the most often-repeated pieces of advice heard from caregivers is to make the time to take advantage of the many resources for caregivers that are available. Seek assistance from family, friends, support groups, and community organizations to help you through the difficult times.
Build a support system of alternative care options to cut down on stress and provide much needed replenishment of your emotional and mental resources. Research adult day care programs and home care programs in your area to build in hours during the week of free time for you and engagement for your elderly parent. Local churches or high schools may have service clubs specifically for helping the elderly and their caregivers with grocery shopping or other chores. If other family member are not pulling their weight, it may be time to have a family meeting and review the realities of what it takes to care for mom or dad. If time is not available from family members than money to pay for services can be substituted.
No one is really prepared for the potential changes that occur in life when caring for an elderly parent. It’s wise to recognize that the journey is a unique and difficult one and give yourself permission to ask for help.