Caregiving Dilemmas: Decisions About Moving Home to Care for a Sick Parent

moving home to care for a sick parent

Moving Home to Care for a Sick Parent

caring for an elderly parent from abroad

Caring for an Elderly Parent From Abroad

Caregiving Expert, Advocate, & Speaker

Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiving Expert

Moving home to care for a sick parent poses many considerations. Cultural and religious beliefs, as well as parent-child relationships, affect these decisions.

An aging parent’s desire to maintain self-determination and remain independent sets a foundation for caregiving beliefs and responsibilities within families.”
— Pamela D Wilson

GOLDEN, CO, USA, April 7, 2021 / -- Decisions about moving home to care for a sick parent often arise after a crisis—like a hip fracture or the progression of chronic disease—resulting in day-to-day challenges for parents to manage on their own. Decision-making in time-sensitive pressured situations can be rushed and result in short-or-long-term unintended consequences.

The desire of aging parents to remain independent and not burden adult children with care responsibilities is as common as cultural beliefs where the expectation of care by parents supersedes the priorities that an adult child caregiver might have for her or his life. How can adult children in these situations of sharp contrast and somewhere in the middle care for aging parents make the right decisions without sacrificing their careers, health and well-being, marriages, and social relationships? Consulting an elder care expert like Pamela D Wilson may offer insights when caregivers feel conflicted about care responsibilities.

When adult children and aging parents live nearby, the decision to move home to care for a sick parent or move a sick parent into the adult child's home may be less distressing than for children who live at a distance or work in another country. The decision to uproot a life to move across a country or end an expatriate career pose more significant considerations. Juggling work and caregiving can feel overwhelming when caregiver support from employers is unavailable.

Parents May Model Caregiving Behaviors for Children

Caregiving behaviors modeled by aging parents for children present insights about the responsibility to care within the family. The role of caregiving is less surprising for these children as parents age and need care.

In other families, caregiving behaviors may not have been modeled for children. These children may be more surprised when care for aging parents is required, although many feel a sense of duty and responsibility to provide support.

Cultural Caregiving Beliefs and Values

In situations where expectations exist for an adult child—usually female—to give up her priorities to care for a parent, relationships with siblings can become stressed. Brothers and sisters may be unwilling to offer any assistance because they are not the chosen caregiver. Instead, siblings go on with their lives, and the primary caregiver may feel resentful moving home to care for a parent.

Adult children living with parents may resent care responsibilities but never discuss the subject because of beliefs that burdening aging parents with personal concerns is disrespectful behavior. Pleasing and caring for parents becomes the main priority to the exclusion of considerations about caregiver’s health and well-being, career, marriage, education, and family life.

Even though this situation is culturally accepted, this does not mean that the caregiver does not suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Research confirms the adverse effects of caregiving on the health and well-being of caregivers. Caregivers who are unemployed and serve as full-time live-in caregivers consider suicide more often than caregivers who remain employed and life with aging parents.

Caregiver self-neglect— not attending to medical care needs or health, using drugs or alcohol, giving up friends and social activities— is more common in caregivers who refuse or cannot utilize formal support services. In these families, going outside of the family for support is viewed as turning one’s back on aging parents, family beliefs, and values.

These caregivers, who will eventually need care, will pass down the stresses of caregiving to their children and their children to the next generation and the next. Is there another way to support the caregiver and the aging parents without disrespecting cultural beliefs?

Caregiving Exhaustion Can Result in Poor Care for Aging Parents

Caregivers have a better opportunity to manage the chronic stress associated with the role of living with and caring for aging parents when formal outside support is utilized. Consultations with elder care experts, hiring in-home caregivers, housekeeping services, utilizing day care, and other formal services can give exhausted caregivers a much-needed break. Research confirms that happy and healthy caregivers have more positive relationships with aging parents and provide better care.

Caregivers who feel resentment, frustration, or anger—but hide these feelings due to cultural beliefs or feelings of guilt—experience caregiver burnout, exhaustion, and physical and mental health concerns. In these situations, mistakes in care for aging parents—medication errors, delaying medical care, or lacking the mental focus to make informed decisions—are more likely to occur. Caregivers become impatient and less kind in their daily interactions with parents.

Compromise, Middle-Ground, and Best Interest

For all caregivers—rather than viewing outside formal support as negative or disrespectful—formal support is an option to relieve caregiver exhaustion to allow the caregiver to be fully engaged and attentive when caring for aging parents. As hours of care for aging parents increase, a primary caregiver can only do so much at a high level of attention.

Individuals in all situations, whether at work, attending classes, or performing other activities, benefit from physical and mental breaks. When caregiving becomes a 24/7 responsibility, breaks for caregivers are non-existent, and the caregiver eventually breaks down. What happens when the caregiver can no longer provide care? An exhausted caregiver cannot serve the best interests of the care of parents indefinitely.

The use of formal caregiving supports—whether a child lives with an aging parent or provides care when living independently—is a wise solution to ensuring that parents receive the care they need and deserve. Time away from caregiving allows the caregiver to take care of their own health and to recharge mentally and physically—both the aging parent and the caregiver benefit.

Caregiver Support for Individuals, Corporations, and Groups

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 or on-site education programs. She supports family caregivers and aging adults through her caregiving library, videos, The Caring Generation podcast, and 1:1 telephone or online eldercare consultations.

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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How to Take Care of My Parents