Providing care for aging parents can be immensely rewarding, but caregiving is not without its challenges. Adult children of aging parents often have a lot on their plates, as they must balance providing care for their loved ones with working, other family responsibilities, and maintaining their own social lives. Setting appropriate boundaries is one important key to avoiding common issues like caregiver fatigue and burnout, so read on to find out how to get started.
Be Prepared to Say No
Family caregivers want what’s best for their aging parents, but that doesn’t mean they have to say yes to every request. Learning how to say no politely and calmly is an essential skill for every caregiver. Whether the caregiver’s mother is refusing to eat, or his or her father is insisting on attending an event that’s too far away for convenience, he or she will have to decline at least the occasional request or demand.
It’s best to be prepared, so write down a list of potential requests, then write down a way of denying them in a polite and reassuring way. This increases the chances that caregivers will be able to respond calmly when the situation inevitably comes up.
Ask for Help
Taking on the stress of caring for an aging parent alone is one of the worst things caregivers can do. Set realistic goals for caregiving that ensure a healthy balance between household and family duties, work, and personal time, then find ways to fill in the gaps. There are also ways to get paid for taking care of family for those who find that the stress of caregiving is too much to add to a full workload.
It’s often the case that other family members will be willing to step in as necessary to provide respite care for primary caregivers. The key is to be specific when asking for help. Try preparing a list of caregiving duties, then ask other family members if there are any items on the list they could help with.
Set Aside Personal Time
Family caregivers still have lives of their own, and they shouldn’t allow caregiving duties to completely overwhelm their own needs. Set aside some personal time in advance and work them into the daily or weekly schedule so they feel like part of the routine. Save these times for personal indulgences, not chores.
Stay in Touch With Other Loved Ones
Caregivers should make it clear to the person receiving care that while they are loved and their needs deserve to be met, they’re not the only people who require occasional attention. It’s best to set aside time for regular social interactions with friends, partners, and other family members instead of just waiting for free time to come up. Whether that means multi-tasking a little and making phone calls to keep in touch while cooking dinner, or enlisting the help of another family member once a week for date nights with a partner outside the home, it’s good to be clear about the need to maintain a strong social network.
The Bottom Line
Caring for aging loved ones is always difficult. For adult children of aging parents facing severe physical or mental decline, it can be overwhelmingly stressful. Setting and maintaining clear boundaries is the best way to avoid caregiver fatigue, manage time, and maintain healthy relationships.