Top 10 Issues Facing People Caring for Elderly Parents
July 15, 2009, Naples, FL – AgingCare.com, a website dedicated to adult children caring for their elderly parents, has gathered the top ten concerns, issues and grievances that affect caregivers. These issues are the most popular topics on the AgingCare.com community forum where caregivers connect and communicate with one another. More than 50,000 caregivers participate on the AgingCare.com website every month.
- Getting paid for caregiving. "Oftentimes, adult children have to give up their careers in order to care for their parents full-time. Obviously, this puts tremendous financial strain on the family," says Marlo Sollitto, Editor of AgingCare.com. An AgingCare.com member explains it like this: "I am unable to earn the income needed to continue caring for both my parents and my own family. I've not only given up my job, but my dreams, for now. It is very lonely and financially difficult."
- Finding services and benefits. Caregivers don't go to classes to find out how to navigate the elder care system, the financial burdens, the Medicare and Medicaid mazes, etc. Most are suddenly thrust into caregiving, with no warning…and no time for preparation. Caregivers often don't know what services are available, where to find them, or even where to begin looking.
- Dealing with difficult parents. "Not a day goes by that a caregiver doesn't ask about how to deal with their parent's mood swings, resistant behavior, profanity, even verbal and physical abuse," says AgingCare.com community moderator Carol Bursack. Oftentimes, illnesses such as dementia bring out these undesirable traits.
- Caring for their own needs. Caregiving is an emotionally and physically demanding task. Caregivers often find themselves in a downward spiral of health. Doctors confirm that stress takes physical form, including increased blood pressure, heart attack scares, arthritis flare-ups, acid reflux, headaches, and other conditions.
- Making time for family and friends. Caregiving can become so all-consuming that the caregiver's other relationships suffer. First to go is the time, or even the energy and desire, to maintain friendships. Then there are the children at home. Time that would normally be spent with the kids is usurped with doctor's visits or bathing and feeding the elderly person. And then the marriage. The spouse feels neglected. The stress in the marriage can be intolerable for both sides. Marriages can and do break, under the stress of caregiving.
- Getting a break from caregiving. Just as they don't have time for family and friends, caregivers also don't have time to take a break. According to an AgingCare.com survey, 53% of caregivers provide care 40 or more hours per week. This leaves little or no time for hobbies, friendships or vacations.
- Parents moving in. When elderly relatives need daily care, moving them into the caregiver's home can seem like the best solution, both for convenience sake and financially. But it's also a huge undertaking for everyone involved and opens the door to a new realm of challenges. .
- Taking away the keys. The fact that mom or dad should no longer drive might be evident, but that doesn't make it any easier for the aging parent to give up their independence. For many older drivers, giving up the car keys represents the end of life as they've known it and caregivers struggle with how to address this sensitive issue.
- Getting support from family. When an elderly parent's health begins to fail, one adult child generally becomes the primary caregiver. It can eventually cause resentment when the caregiver find themselves shouldering most of the burden—especially if other siblings live nearby yet don't help out.
- Guilt over not wanting to care for their parents. They love their parents, they feel a sense of obligation to care for them, but often, the parents make it so difficult that the adult children don't want to do it anymore. There's no easy answer. Oftentimes, caregivers continue to care for their parents out of a sense of obligation or guilt, and their own lives suffer as a result. The one place they can find support is the AgingCare.com community.
AgingCare.com is a website and online forum for people caring for their aging parents. AgingCare.com lets those caring for aging parents communicate with each other, get answers from elder care experts and access news, information and products related to caregiving. For information, visit www.agingcare.com or call 239-594-3202.