Caregiving: Surprises About Caring for Aging Parents

caring for aging parents

Caring for Aging Parents

caregiver support and education programs

Caregiver Support and Education Programs from Pamela D Wilson

Caregiving Expert, Advocate, & Speaker

Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiving Expert

The caregiving experience can result in an inner struggle to adapt to a new way of life for caregivers of an aging parent or a spouse.

Working and taking care of elderly parents is full of surprises. What caregivers don’t know can negatively affect their daily lives and the quality of care of loved ones.”
— Pamela D Wilson

GOLDEN, CO, USA, March 26, 2021 / -- The experiences of adult children and spousal caregivers are different for many reasons. Careers, varying health diagnoses, denial, family relationships, and expectations for care are common topics requested by caregivers on Wilson’s podcast The Caring Generation®.

Well-intentioned adult children reduce work schedules or give up paid employment to care for aging parents. While this seems like the right thing to do, the long-term consequences of giving up a job can result in outdated skills or significant employment gaps, making it more difficult to re-enter the workforce.

Caregivers in developing countries, where fewer social supports exist, find it more challenging to identify options for care for and provide income to fund care expenses of aging parents. Even in industrialized countries, knowledge about caregiver programs is low, resulting in many caregivers experiencing emotional and financial strains before finding the right type of help.

Though caregiving brings many benefits from improved relationships with loved ones and positive feelings—the work is demanding and bears personal costs. Caregivers experience lost wages, marital discord, and poor physical and mental health. Solutions include caregiver support and courses.

Differences Between Adult Children and Spousal Caregivers

Caregivers who participate in Wilson’s groups say that having a job to go to keeps them sane. Time away from the care of aging parents allows caregivers to shift attention to work projects and supports financial independence.

Risks for adult children include becoming so focused on the care of aging parents that they do not plan for their care in later years. Spousal caregivers can feel more isolated and alone than adult children due to retiring and caregiving becoming a full-time job.

A shared identity exists in spousal or partner relationships. Spousal caregivers grieve the loss of retirement dreams and increased responsibilities when a husband or wife becomes ill and needs significant care. Retirement discussions and planning rarely discuss the aspect of caring for a spouse.

Because adult children are more likely to have work and social contacts, they have more opportunity than spousal caregivers to balance the emotional stress resulting from caregiving responsibilities.

Denying a Need for Help vs. Expecting Help

Though family caregivers do not have healthcare or medical experience, many eventually accept responsibility for coordinating care, managing medications, and providing medical care.

Loved ones diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, mental illness, and neurological diagnosis represent more significant care needs. Before this diagnosis—unless a considerable health event occurs—a parent or spouse may lack insight into the day-to-day effects of the disease or impairment.

Caregivers may become frustrated when loved ones who are forgetful, appear apathetic or deny that physical, memory or other concerns exist. Aging parents may initially refuse help from adult children and then later expect children to provide total care.

Tug of war battles occur in family caregiving situations. When loved ones don’t think anything is wrong or that help is needed, the caregiver's frustration escalates. Parents may not want to attend doctor appointments or change behaviors that may improve health conditions. Spousal caregivers can become dependent for all needs. As a result, caregivers can feel helpless or unappreciated for their efforts.

Caregivers and care receivers who have positive relationships are more equipped to work through the push and pull of needing and accepting help. Other aspects of care—like attending medical appointments—can become more of a shared responsibility to learn and implement the suggestions of healthcare providers.

A Change of Care Situation Does Not Usually Equate to Fewer Responsibilities or Stress

There are times when an adult child or a spouse will move a loved one into a care community. This change of living arrangement is often expected to reduce caregiver stress.

On the contrary, the care situation shifts to an environment where new skills like supervising care, working with the care staff, and negotiating with medical providers become even more critical. For this reason, education for caregivers to learn about the short and long-term effects of a health diagnosis and the importance of staying on top of care needs is essential to managing escalating caregiver stress.

Family Caregiving Conversations are Essential to Reducing Guilt

Caregivers and care receivers should not underestimate the importance of ongoing care conversations. Discussions about the care receiver expressing appreciation for the caregiver's efforts are equally as imperative as talking about a lack of money to pay for care.

Interactions with the healthcare system, doctors, specialists, and health insurance companies significantly impact the type and quality of care that an individual receives. When a caregiver lacks the critical skills to advocate for a loved one, mistakes and harm may occur to an aging parent or a spouse.

Caregiving is an ongoing situation of trying to get ahead of “how do I know what I don’t know?” Rather than live in anxiety and fear about making mistakes or advancing care needs, caregivers who seek support groups and caregiver education programs fare better than others.

Putting Time On the Side of the Caregiver

Time devoted to caregiving is incremental—it rarely shrinks and usually grows in time and complexity. Caregivers, pressured for time, will say that there is no time to attend a support group or take a course because they feel as if they have lost control of the situation.

Instead of arriving at situations of overwhelm, caregivers who seek early support and take early caregiver classes are better at managing the care of elderly parents for the duration. Rather than being surprised by unexpected situations, caregivers accessing support are more aware of and prepared for the future stages of caring for elderly parents.

Unique Education for Groups and Corporations

Wilson’s mission to reach one million caregivers worldwide is supported by her passion for working with groups and corporations to provide keynote speaking sessions, live or online presentations, webinars, and unique online education programs, including online caregiver support. Because of COVID, global corporations are increasingly aware and attentive to the struggles of working caregivers.

Contact Wilson for more information about caregiver support, resources, and education through her website by emailing or calling +1 303-810-1816.

P Dombrowski-Wilson
Pamela D. Wilson, Inc.
+1 303-810-1816
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