What To Expect When Caring For A Loved One

caregiver

This is a guest post by Lawrence Reaves.

When we make the decision to take our loved ones into our home, we also accept responsibility for the care and well being of that loved one, the same as we would if they were our children.  The cycle becomes complete when we accept responsibility for our ailing parents and work to repay the efforts they made caring for us when we were children. 

But the challenges that face us when caring for an ailing adult are very different and unique to the situation.  There are several things that will commonly be expected of you when you make the decision to take your loved one into your home, and each of them should be carefully weighed out before the decision is made.

Basic Daily Tasks

There are several daily tasks that will become difficult for all of us as we age, and the situation is exacerbated by physical and mental illness.  When we care for our loved ones, we may become responsible for some of the following basic tasks.

  • Bathing
  • Feeding
  • Dressing

These are just a few examples of the regular tasks that we are asked to perform as we take over the care of an ailing parent or family member.  Because some of these tasks can be difficult and awkward, it’s important that the motivations for helping are pure, and that each caregiver feels they can be comfortable with performing the most basic of tasks.

Changes In The Home

There are many reasons that we may end up caring or an ailing parent.  Physical illnesses such as broken bones and cancers may make it impossible for our parents to live alone once they hit a certain age.  Mental illnesses like dementia can make it dangerous for certain individuals to live alone and take care of themselves.

Because of this, when we bring our loved ones to our home to live, it’s important that we take the necessary steps to modify our homes to make them safe and comfortable for our loved ones.  We may be asked to bring in hospital beds for the comfort of our family members, or update locks on our doors if wandering is a concern.  If falling is an issue, it may be important to put the family member in a downstairs bedroom.  Wheelchair ramps may need to be brought in if the family member is unable to walk.

All these things must be considered before the decision is made to bring an ailing parent or family member home.  I have found it helpful to make a list of things that must be done before bringing the individual in the home, so they don’t feel they are an additional burden.

Nutrition

You may need to make changes to your family’s menu and diet when you bring in an ailing parent or family member.  Not only will it be your responsibility to feed the individual, but you must also be responsible for their nutritional health.  This means that certain foods may need to be cut out of the home, and healthier foods may need to be brought in.  This is especially true in cases with patients with dementia, who may wander and eat things they are not supposed to.  Along with feeding your loved one the right foods, make sure they are taking all recommended medications and vitamins to keep them healthy and strong for as long as possible.

Communication

There will be times of struggle and times of stress.  There will likely be fights and arguments, and feelings will likely be hurt during the transition phase.  It’s important that each member of the family feels they can express their feelings in a safe setting and not be chastised or judged for them.  This includes the parent or family member who is moving in.  Make sure to open extra channels of communication within your family during this stressful time.

Taking care of an ailing parent is a sacrifice, but not one that is without its rewards.  You will be asked to make changes in your life and the lives of your family members, but the relationship you can develop with your loved on at the end of your life will be worth the sacrifice.  When you are prepared and ready to handle all the changes, you are more likely to have a positive experience in caring for your ailing parent.  Make sure you are ready and making the right decision for all involved before taking over the care of someone you love.

Author Bio: Lawrence Reaves writes for Lift Caregiving, a free service offering support and encouragement to caregivers.  Go here and see how they can help you.

Photo credit: care giver image courtesy of On Being via photopin cc

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