If you are involved in the care of a family member on any level, chances are you have experienced both the rewards and challenges of being in such a position. The relationship can have a closeness to it, a companionship that is special, and the feeling of doing something good for another person, especially if that person is a parent and took care of you at one time. All of these good things don’t negate the facts that at times caring for another person can be frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming. How do you know when it becomes too much, either physically, financially, mentally or all of the above? Here are three signs that it’s time to ask for help:
1. You are neglecting your family. Are your spouse and/or children being neglected because you are constantly needed by the aging family member? Are you missing important dates like anniversaries, school functions, games, or recitals because you cannot break away from your duties? “But my parent is my family,” you may say. “I have a responsibility to them.” This may be true, but this can be accomplished in other ways than you being the only and full-time caregiver. Studies show that hiring an outside caregiver for even one day a week, greatly relieves the stress and weightiness from being a full time caregiver to a family member. You should never feel guilty for being present with your family, and a way to make this happen is to hire more help.
2. You are exhausted and/or ill. Thanks to the busyness of life, most people these days can probably agree that they aren’t as rested as they should be. Caregiving, however, creates an exhaustion all its own. If you are too tired to manage your day-to-day family and life, then it’s time to ask for help. You cannot lead two lives, yours and the family member you are caring for, very well for very long. Sooner or later you will crash, become ill, become bitter and angry, and simply stop enjoying your life, because you are crushed under the weight of all you are responsible for. Don’t let it get to this point! Recognize your limits, and then plan accordingly so that you can enjoy the life you have, as well as the life you share with your aging family member.
3. You are broke. This subject is always the one that no one wants to talk about. Life is expensive, and covering the cost of your life and the life of your loved one is almost undoable. If they are unable to pay their bills, buy healthy food, afford prescriptions, or pay their mortgage, it’s time to ask for help. A good caregiving agency can assist you in finding resources to help your aging loved one. The National Council on Aging is just one of many groups that exists to provide resources and advice for people looking to take care of a family member. While you may be able to cover both of your financials for a time, it won’t last forever, and it’s better to make sure there is a plan in place to provide for all of their needs.
These are only a few of the warning signs that it’s time to look for outside help. Many agencies work to keep the adult, ‘aging in place,” or in their home as they age. This is not impossible and can be done without breaking the bank. The important thing here is to recognize when you need to stop, and then seek out an agency that can help you. For more information on how to choose an agency that’s right for your family, click here.