The Reef for Male Caregivers – Tips on Caregiving for Your Parents
Hello and welcome. As your parents get older, they may become unable to care for themselves and will have to depend on someone else for support. This source of support often comes from people like you, their adult children, who may not be experienced as a caregiver. There are no manuals on how to be a good caregiver despite how challenging the role is. This lack of knowledge is because your relationship with your parent is a unique one and how you respond to them will vary depending on the context, your personal history, and how close you are with them.
Nevertheless, there are some things to consider as you embark on this difficult journey as a family caregiver.
Tip 1: Learn as much as you can about your parent’s condition
Your parent may be experiencing common symptoms associated with old age, or they may have been diagnosed with a serious illness like Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Whatever the case may be, it will benefit you to do some research. What does the status of your parent’s condition imply for you? Depending on what their condition is, you may have to teach yourself about various resources like nurse registries, adult day centers, assisted living facilities, or your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). You may also have to develop new strategies to communicate with your loved one if they are impacted by a neurological disorder. What you do for your parent depends on their needs, and you can only know this if you learn about their condition. Also, knowing about symptoms they have experienced, or will experience, can prepare you to handle difficult situations in the future.
Tip 2: Manage your work-life balance
Caregiving consumes a lot of time, but this does not mean you need to quit your job to become a good caregiver. It is true that caregiving can encroach on one’s work time, so it is usually recommended to have an honest discussion with your supervisor about your situation, only if you think it is the right idea. If your supervisor is understanding and approachable, he or she may allow you to adjust your work hours, work from home, or change your schedule to a part-time one. All of these factors depend on your own personal and financial needs.
Alternatively, you can take a leave of absence per the Family Medical Leave Act. The Act is a US Federal law that allows employees to take a job-protected, unpaid leave for legitimate medical purposes.
Lastly, you can enlist the help of other family members or friends if you are feeling overwhelmed. Even though you might hesitate to ask for help from a third party, especially if it’s a friend, it is wise to do so if you feel you need help, especially if you have a busy work schedule. If you take on too much and become too stressed, then this will impact your effectiveness as a caregiver.
Tip 3: If you have siblings, coordinate with them
If you have siblings and keep in touch with them, then you may be able to coordinate with them to reduce your burden. Try scheduling a family meeting and agree on roles that individual siblings can take. Everyone should talk about their strengths and weaknesses so that they can commit to certain tasks and can perform them well for the sake of your parent. Delegating roles to other family members can be a huge relief to you, especially if you are limited by a work schedule.
Tip 4: Know your finances and know your resources
Caregiving can be a stressful and an expensive role. You should, therefore, remember to know your limitations and when you should explore third-party organizations for help. Fortunately, there exist low-cost public benefits and resources. For instance, you can visit the website for the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging or the benefits checklist through the National Council on Aging. Additionally, the government also provides an eldercare locator, so you have access to different kinds of resources located near you. Lastly, you can explore what kind of coverage you can get through your parent’s insurance company. Coverage like this can be very helpful if you choose to use a professional caregiving service.
Becoming a family caregiver is a complex role that not many people are prepared to take on. It is important to do your research and to ask for help when you need it. Although there is not one sole way to become a great caregiver, there are certain steps you can take to make the task seem less daunting and more manageable. Knowing that you are not alone in this endeavor is the first step to take to adopt your new and challenging role confidently.
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