Currently there are close to 42 million adult children involved in the day-to-day care of an elder parent. According to statistics, they spend an average of 25 hours per week, and experience close to a 40% job loss.
Family Caregivers experience twice the national average of heart disease, obesity, depression, and addictive behaviors. They tend to put themselves last and have lives that tend to be off balance.
Geriatric Mental Health Professionals can usually be found through referral from a doctor, and seeking one out, if referred, can be covered by Medicare.There are several triggers that cause the escalation of mental illness:
- Physical disability
- Long-term illness (e.g., heart disease or cancer)
- Dementia-causing illness (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease)
- Physical illnesses that can affect thought, memory, and emotion (e.g. thyroid or adrenal disease)
- Change of environment, like moving into assisted living
- Illness or loss of a loved one
- Medication interactions
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Poor diet or malnutrition
You are not alone. There are numerous resources — including Answers for Elders that is dedicated to providing resources and support that you need as a family caregiver. If thrust into the role of caregiving a senior parent, there are several foundational things you should consider:
- Set up a Caregiver bank account. Track direct expenses. This is critical for a multitude of reasons, including if your parent ever needs to qualify for Medicaid or other governmental assistance programs.
- Seek Balance. It is important that you do not give up your life. If your parent needs more care than what is reasonable for your life, you should seek out other living solutions
- Take Care of Your Health. Diet and Exercise is just as important for you as it is for your parent.
- Communicate with other family members. Make sure that they understand fully your boundaries and that they are informed with the status of your senior loved one
- Find a strong support network. Reach out and connect to various community and church oriented networks.
- You have rights. If your parent is ill or needs your help, you cannot be fired for missing work. You are protected under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Seeking out professionals for help with caregiving come in various forms. You can seek out more criteria on each here in the Decision Guide:
- Home Caregiving Companies. Seek out professionally licensed, bonded and insured companies that can provide non-medical home care for Mom or Dad a few days per week
- Professional Geriatric Care Managers can help you with seeking out the best option for your parent. They take the whole picture, including your capacity to care for your loved one, and make professional recommendations
- Mental Health Counselors. Seek out counselors who specialize in Caregiving. In some cases they are called Caregiver Coaches
- Elder Law Attorneys can provide the proper legal paperwork such as Durable Power of Attorney or Healthcare Directive documents should your parent need your intervention