Finding Help for Your Aging Parent When You Can’t Be There

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Finding help for your aging parent when you can’t be there shouldn’t be a worry. Discover 3 ways to get the help you need when you’re called away.

There are going to be times as you are taking care of your aging parent that life keeps you from being there. Whether it’s meeting the needs of other members of your family, taking care of your own health needs, or getting a well-deserved break, there will be times when you just can’t be there.

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About two years into caregiving, my side of our family had a reunion. An important part of healthy caregiving is maintaining relationships with those outside your home. My husband and I knew it would be a good respite opportunity for us and give us a much needed vacation.

We started making plans to leave my MIL for a week.

  • My SIL volunteered to come stay with my MIL while we were away.
  • My MIL already had an established Home Healthcare Aide helping us.
  • I created a detailed care plan including routines, diet, medication, and doctors numbers.

While my MIL experienced some minor confusion, because of our preparations and keeping her routines as normal as possible, our trip was lovely. My MIL suffered no ill effects or lasting changes to her Dementia. We returned *mostly* rested (we were traveling with two children after all) and ready to resume our caregiving roles.

It’s going to be ok.

Too often caregivers start feeling hopeless because we feel stuck in our role. We start feeling like no one is able/should/or capable of caring for our aging parent except for us. We may even feel like our aging parent will not survive without us.

This is a guilt complex we are giving ourselves that prevents us from asking for help when we need it. It is absolutely unnecessary.

Before Finding Help

  • Hire someone now. Start before you ever even imagine needing help. This allows both you and your aging parent to be confident and at ease with whoever you are entrusting your parent’s care to while you are away.
  • Keep a care plan updated and copies available. No one wants to try to remember all this information in the event of an emergency. It also makes it an easy reference when discussing your aging parent’s care and treatment with doctors and family.
  • Practice being “away”. If you are the only person your parent ever sees, you needing to leave no matter who you find to care in your stead will cause your aging parent a great deal of unnecessary anxiety. Make it a point to leave your aging parent once or twice a week with a trusted caregiver, even for just a few hours.

Finding Help for Your Aging Parent

Related Post: How to Know When to Make Decisions for Your Aging Parent

Temporary Respite Care

Many caregivers shy away from this because they feel like they are abandoning their aging parent. This is definitely not the case! Temporary Respite Care is provided by many skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

What it means is that you are placing your parent in their capable care for a short time when life calls you away. This is a great option for when you don’t have a lot of help from family or friends readily available.

There are a lot of assistant programs available for respite care. Start by contacting your local Department of Aging Disability Services or a nursing home in your area.

Home Healthcare

Even when life is running smoothly, there are still days I have to get out of the house. Whether it’s taking my kids to an activity, running errands, or seeing to my own appointments, there are times during the week that I just can’t be there for my MIL. While there is always the option of bringing my MIL with us, it isn’t always the best option.

Three days a week, we have a hired healthcare aide come in and stay with my MIL for a few hours. Our aide sees that my MIL is showered, fed, safe, and comfortable when I can’t be there and acts as companion when I am.

They have become great friends and my MIL, though reluctant at first, treasures their time together. I’m able to see to the needs of my other family members and myself without feeling guilt over not being with my MIL.

Related Post: Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Moving A Parent into Your Home

How to Get Home Healthcare

  • There are multiple agencies out there designed for placing CNA’s in your home. Start with a simple Google search (search: elder home care) for agencies in your area.
  • Talk to your parent’s Primary Care Physician (the doctor they see when they’re sick). Sometimes they can send a state aide to help at little or no cost to you.
  • Ask your local elder care agencies (Department on Aging and Disabilities, Alzheimer’s Association) for recommendations.
  • Hire independently. Because of our rural location, my family chose to hire independently. Start by asking members of your church and community for references.**

**Always use caution when relying on Social Media for recommendations and make sure to run background checks, reference checks, and extensive interviews before allowing someone into your home.

Call in the “Family Reserves”

The final solution to finding care for your aging parent when you can’t be there is to depend on family.

If you have a family member caring for an aging parent or loved one, please consider making yourself available a few times a year to provide alternative care. Caregiving is a family affair and should never be the exclusive responsibility of just one member.

When I was pregnant with my youngest son, my MIL’s care became a huge concern for me particularly the time I was delivering the baby and shortly after. I knew from my other two pregnancies and birth experiences that I would need help.

My SIL was thankfully able to come for a week shortly after the birth of my son. She took over most of the care and homemaking while I rested with the baby.

Needing help or taking a break does not make you a bad or unqualified caregiver. It makes you a person who wears a multitude of hats that don’t always peacefully coexist.

Don’t allow the need for help fill you with unnecessary guilt or concern. With some preparation, a solid plan, and knowing who to call will allow you to leave confident in your parent’s care when you aren’t able to be there.

Did you like this post? How do you go about finding help for your aging parent when you can’t be there? Let me know in the comments below!

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