More and more, baby boomers care for elderly parents during their retirement years, a period when they thought they’d be free to relax, pursue hobbies and travel.
When telling us about their struggles, our clients report they also enjoy most of the time they spend with their parents. Their guilt over their resentment and frustration comes through loud and clear to those of us answering the phone. Indeed, research shows there are many benefits to helping a loved one. The John Hopkins School of Public Health conducted a study which determined that 67% of caregivers report they:
- developed a better relationship with the family member they were caring for,
- gained a stronger appreciation for life,
- found strengths they didn’t know they had, and
- gained an important feeling of accomplishment.
As happens when parenting young children, however, life enrichments occur hand in hand with incredible stresses. Know that ALL family caregivers, no matter how loving and dedicated, experience exhaustion, resentment and even times when they snap at their senior parent. The aggravation intensifies when the retired caregiver was hoping to escape the responsibilities of work and interactions with others.
Review these challenges to caring for senior parents during your own retirement years. Hopefully, you’ll be able to understand your varying feelings and forgive yourself for them.
Challenge #1: Emotional Stress
According to Pew Research, more than half (53%) of Americans with at least one parent age 65 and older requiring care term their involvement, “very stressful.” Caring for aging parents, whether in their homes or yours, can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Nearly every aspect of a parent’s life must be overseen, including dressing, transportation, pill dosage, proper diet, and medical appointments , and even general household duties. Maintaining this level of supervision, while still managing retirement activities, can be crazy-making. Your retirement days were supposed to stretch from morning until night in the glory of unstructured and task-free hours. Now you’re following up with doctor’s appointments, driving to senior activities and making sure mom or dad ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once again, your mind is filled with endless tasks, none of which are necessarily interesting.
Challenge #2: Financial Issues
Pew Research conducted a study in which nearly 30 percent Americans say they have provided financial help to their parents. Unfortunately, caring for your parents takes its toll on our own retirement’s financial security. To ease the burden, you may want to totally take over the payment of your parents’ bills, instead of providing cash to them on an as-needed basis. This is especially true if your parent is suffering from symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. If you pay your parents’ medical bills directly, you may qualify for a tax write-off. Feel justified in prioritizing your own nest egg so you can live at a reasonable level.
Challenge #3: Physical Issues
Caring for a parent requires a lot of physical work. Since these physical demands can grow slowly over the years, we may underestimate the physical toll they now take on our own aging bodies. Retired baby boomers find themselves lifting and dressing parents every day. Extra help is needed, of course, for our parents’ bathing/bathroom needs, walking assistance, and even just transferring in and out of a car. Running around for our parents while doing grocery shopping, errands and maintaining a basic level of housekeeping also exhausts us.
In our late sixties and seventies, our bodies labor with reduced bone and muscle mass and possible sleep issues. Losing our own sense of taste, we eat less, lowering our energy levels. Our immune systems aren’t as robust as they were in our thirties either, leaving us prone to viruses. Physical and mental exhaustion takes a toll on our mood, making us prone to lashing out and/or breakdowns. Those experiencing either or both must share the caregiving burden with other family members or competent hired caregivers. Inability to handle all senior caregiving tasks is NOT a personal failure. It’s an impossible task shared by all other retired family caregivers. Don’t be a martyr; make changes so you’re not shouldering the entire burden alone!
Love 2 Live Home Services helps San Diego retirees care for their aging parents
Don’t be ashamed to admit that you, as retirees, need help caring for your own aging parents. We get calls from retirees at the end of their emotional, financial and physical resources every day! They tend to start with incredible guilt at even making the call. We get it, and hate to think of those in their retirement years out there who think they must handle everything alone.
At Love 2 Live Care Services, our goal is to keep the seniors in our care happy and loved. We will take care of every detail, big or small, so you can relax in knowing that your parents are in good hands. Contact us at 619-291-4663 with your questions. We provide a no-obligation in-home assessment & safety inspection, free of charge. If you are a concerned son or daughter living outside of the city or state, then you definitely need to call us! We can arrange all of your loved one’s care details, providing you with the peace of mind you need to have a day luxuriating in the retirement you’ve earned!