Help For the Unpaid Caregiver

Many of us act as an unpaid caregiver for our parents, and with good reason. Our parents cared for us when we were babies. They gave us everything we needed and so much of what we wanted when we couldn’t do things for ourselves. Then they raised us, sacrificing constantly, all to give us the best life they could, and helped us reach adulthood. And still, as adults, they were there for us in so many ways. What we owe our parents is incalculable.

And then, a few decades down the line, they need us. We want to do whatever we can to give them what they need. So somehow, we find ourselves caring for our parents, as well as our own children, while still maintaining a job. Many of us are part of what has become known as “The Sandwich Generation.” We are caregivers caught in the middle of our children and our parents. Many of us have worked hard to contribute financially to our families; many, in fact, are the primary providers in their household.

The U.S. Census bureau estimated that there are currently 44 million who identify as an unpaid caregiver in our country caring for older adults. Most of these people are women, women who are losing an average $324,044 in wages and benefits while acting as an unpaid caregiver, according to a study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving. But we tell ourselves that acting as the unpaid caregiver is the right thing to do, that it’s the best way to make sure our parents have the help they need. But is it?

One question that’s important to ask yourself is this: Do your parents want you to be their caregiver?

It’s natural to assume that no one can care for your parents the way YOU can. After all, you know them best. But have you asked them what they want?

Many of the tasks that caregivers must provide may make their parents uncomfortable. As their child, you may view these tasks with love, but your father may feel like he’s losing his dignity when his daughter helps with personal care tasks.

The best way to deal with this is to plan ahead. Talk to your parents while you can. Ask what they want, even before it’s time to make caregiving decisions. Meet with a geriatric care planning specialist who can sit down with you and figure out what you can afford that fits in with what you’d like.

If your parents want to live with you, make sure you get the help you need to make it happen for everyone’s well-being–including your own! Explore options at your local senior services provider (if you live in Illinois, you can find yours here) and find out if you qualify for free or inexpensive services, including adult day care, in-home services, emergency home response systems, automated medication dispensers, and so much more. Join a caregiver support group, and take advantage of respite services that give you a break from the stress.

If your parents would rather live on their own, or in a senior community, but they have limited funds, you can find plenty of beautiful assisted living communities that are categorized as “supportive living.” In a supportive living environment, seniors who qualify are able to live independently in an affordable community. You can read more about how that works in Illinois here.

Your parents’ resources may be limited, but there are options out there.We can help you find the best solutions out there that work within your means, but also help your parents feel the dignity they are entitled to. So whether that is finding the best way to keep your parents at home while maintaining your own health, or if that means finding the best senior community to fit your parents’ lifestyle, physical needs, and budget–that’s our specialty. Contact us today and see how we can help your family.