Caring for Aging Loved Ones

Aging is difficult, even with adequate family and financial resources.   You may have aging relatives whose needs for care will increase over time.  With age comes age–related changes in functioning.  As they get older, relatives may need assistance to remain at home comfortably and safely.

Caregiving responsibilities for someone at home may include:

  • Providing companionship and emotional support
  • Helping with household tasks
  • Handling bills and/or insurance claims
  • Assisting with personal care (dressing, toileting, hygiene, eating, walking, transferring)
  • Performing  nursing procedures at home
  • Administering multiple medications
  • Identifying and coordinating services
  • Hiring and supervising direct care workers
  • Arranging and providing transportation
  • Communicating with health care professionals
  • Serving as an advocate at medical appointments and/or hospitalizations
  • Initiating difficult conversations about care needs, such as giving up driving
  • Coordinating care during transitions, such as from the hospital to home

Finding work-life balance with aging relatives, children, and partners may be difficult to achieve. You may be juggling child and adolescent care with work and elder care, leaving little time for self-care.

Take this self-assessment to monitor how much emotional and physical distress you experience in caring for your elder relative:

  • I frequently feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time or do enough for my elderly person
  • I don’t like being the person who has to tell my elderly person that he can’t drive, needs to give up his home, or must get hearing aids
  • I am impatient, angry, or frustrated frequently with my elderly person, my family, and my co-workers
  • I am sad and tearful
  • I am afraid I may hit or lash out at my elderly person
  • The quality or quantity of my work has diminished
  • I am spending a lot of money on caring for my relative
  • I worry all the time about my elderly person’s health, finances, and well being
  • I am not sleeping well, exercising, or seeing friends
  • I don’t have time for my partner and/or my children
  • I feel sorry for myself
  • I am drinking or using drugs more often

If you answer yes to three or more of these statements, you may want to talk to someone with expertise in working with the elderly.    It is important to monitor how much emotional and physical distress you experience in caring for your relative.  You may need to consider additional help if your elder relative’s needs are not being met, if you are not able to attend to your responsibilities, or if you are experiencing overwhelming distress.