Caring for one’s parents in their senior years can be a purposeful experience to an adult family member(s) who care for them on a regular basis, but it can also bring with it many unexpected challenges. For example, if a parent(s) are also disabled to the point of being in bed much of the time, the family member who does the caretaking can often feel at a loss as to how to keep up the pace of day-to-day routines, especailly once the caretaking has taken place for several years without the use of outside assistance. Many times, adult family members want to abide by the wishes of the senior disabled parent.
Thus, it can pose a dilemma in their own personal life, since it is not easy to have much of a personal life while devoting so much of one’s time to caring for a parent fulltime. Some of the challenges that come up can cause the caretaker to feel trapped in a sense, because often parents in their Senior years are already set in their ways, wanting more from the caretaker than it is emotionally possible to give. For instance, if a parent insists on having their way with old patterns of eating (e.g. – bad diets or foods that are not good for their health), it can cause the family member doing the caretaking to feel frustrated with them, especially when the whole idea is to try and get them to a healthier state of being. A patient who is already wearing a nitropatch due to cardiac failure for example, should not be asking for foods that are known to be ladened with high fat content.
Many times, senior parents in this kind of health state get bored with the diets that their physicians and nutritionists have recommended and they begin to give their adult children doing the caretaking a difficult time, insisting on changing their healthy recommended diet back to old bad patterns of eating. One of the best ways of handling this kind of problem is to simply stand firm with the parent(s) and do what needs to continually be done –serve them the proper foods, but ask for their favorite choices and get them to verbalize what they enjoy that is on the healthy list. Creating the kind of checklists that nursing homes/hospitals have could prove to be functionable in the area of getting the parent(s) to cooperate with proper eating habits. After all, if a few of their favorite vegetables, meats, fruit, etc. are on the checklist daily, it would seem more reasonable for them to cooperate with the situation prior to meal preparation, thereby making it a more pleasurable experience for senior parent(s) and caretaker.
It is amazing the problems that an adult family member and caretaker can suddenly be thrown into, not having realized beforehand all the situations and circumstances surrounding the senior family member(s) they suddenly are caring for. For example, a parent who has struggled most of their life just making ends meet might not have taken time to explore the matter of life insurance for themself around their regular job of providing for themself and/or their young children during their younger years. As stunning to the mind as that sounds in this day and age, it is often a very real situation for a lot of families by the time parents reach their senior years. When a family member suddenly finds themself caring for a senior parent with this kind of situation, it can become very emotionally troublesome to say the least, especially when the family member is on a fixed income themself and cannot do much about helping in this area financially. Insurance companies do not actively take on seniors who are severely disabled at a certain age.
Thus, this can pose a major problem for family members who suddenly discover a parent does not already have life insurance in their senior years when they begin taking care of them on a daily basis. It can suddenly become more than just a little heartbreaking to the family member(s) doing the caretaking. Also, at some point in the early caretaking experience when the caretaker and family member begins caring daily for the parent(s), just sorting through papers/mail can become an overwhelming task. A lot of the overwhelming factors involved with this type of situation can stem from just trying to allow a parent or parents who still have their sound mental faculties to maintain their dignity in day-to-day routines such as opening their own mail and making good judgment decisions of their own circumstances that come up routinely. At first, it might seem to the senior parent as though they suddenly have to sign everything over to their adult children when they are still capable mentally of handling their own business situations.
While that might be true, there are still many issues that a disabled parent is not capable of doing, depending of course, on their particular health challenges. If they are wheelchair bound, they might still be able to handle many of their own life routines, but this would depend greatly on whether they have been moving about in their wheelchairs on their own all along to handle their individual day-to-day tasks. Many times, a parent is homebound due to their medical situations, and only use their wheelchair within their home or apartment. Aside from that, they might only be taken to doctor appointments in their wheelchair by local medical transportation services and back home again. Many times, both caretaker and senior parent seldom get out of the house except for such occasions as doctor appointments. This is because of the ongoing challenges with day-to-day routines around caring for a senior parent at home where there is no outside assistance involved.
These are but a few of the many situations that family members doing caretaking can experience over time. It is a learning experience to say the least. Thus, senior caretaking can open one’s mind to various ways of handling some of the challenges and life situations that arise daily while doing this kind of work. Researching daily concerns of parental caretaking can prove very helpful during such challenges. One often finds themself utilzing every possible tool available in order to get the job done properly. The Internet, phone books, classified ads, physicians offices, and networking with family members and friends are just a few of the resources available to caretakers/family members.