trapped caring for elderly parent
Your Options When Feeling Trapped Caring for Elderly Parent

I Don’t Want to Care for my Elderly Parents

If you are like most family caregivers, you promised your parents years ago not to put them in a nursing home. Then reality sets in when you start caring for them day after day, year after year. But when one or both parents need more help, many adult children are put in a difficult position. Those who consider this decision often have questions and what-ifs. Here are the answers you need so you can care for your parents and care for yourself too.

When Assisted Living is a Good Option

A senior is ready for assisted living when there are a few telltale signals. Determining a loved one’s daily schedule, health status, functional abilities, current and future care needs, and quality of life is frequently easier than looking for specific indications. However, here are five strong indicators it’s time to move your parents to assisted living. 

First, isolated and lonely elders cannot enjoy hobbies or socialize with family and friends. Isolation can cause major psychosocial problems like loneliness, dementia, heart problems, and poor life skills. They may not eat enough or drink enough water, or improperly manage medications. 

As people age, their risk of chronic illness rises. With age comes the need for more medical care and help control it and medication management. Additionally, health concerns crop up, too, like falling without the ability to get up or an inability to navigate stairs. 

Next, many seniors cannot manage their finances, and bills may pile up. Dementia, for example, reduces the ability to reason abstractly and numerically, which can make taxes and bills complicated. Furthermore, con artists frequently prey on seniors as they are easier to defraud.

Another sign’s time to move your parents into a care facility includes a dirty or smelly home. Seniors frequently lament their inability to keep up. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting help with housework or dishwashing. However, over time clutter will increase and put your loved one in danger of falling. 

Lastly, check the refrigerator for old rotten food and other signs they are not feeding themselves or managing their kitchen. Poor hygiene is an indicator of needing assisted living. Infrequent bathing, laundry, unkempt hair, filthy nails, and stench are indicators.

Moving a senior to a facility may keep them healthier, safer, and happier than leaving elderly parents home alone to fend for themselves. Many families wait too long before researching senior living options for their loved ones, making assisted living transitions more difficult. After a transition time, many seniors appreciate the increased help, interaction, meals, and activities. It also implies there’s a care plan, which eases the burden on family members to give regular help.

When to Utilize Respite Care

Respite care gives the primary caregiver a break because caring for elderly parents can drain adult children. Respite care may include transportation, companionship, and assistance, but not therapy or treatment. Respite care gives caregivers a day, afternoon, or a few weeks off. 

Sometimes seniors need an alternative caregiver such as respite care, like a babysitter, or daycare for seniors. Respite care can provide emergency help if the senior gets sick, making it safer than leaving them alone. The respite care provider will also meet the seniors’ needs. It allows caregivers to care for elderly family members while also caring for their own needs. 

Respite care is unlimited. You may stay days or weeks in a short-term assisted living facility or residential respite care facility. Some facilities specialize in short-term stays, while others provide long-term care. If you are burned out and need a break but can still care for an elderly relative, you should look into respite care for a much-needed break.

Caregiver’s Guilt and Loneliness

Caregiver guilt can be a barrier in many situations. When an elder displays dementia-related behaviors, creates unsafe or unsanitary conditions, sets a poor example for your children, interferes with your marriage, or refuses to contribute to the household or take care of themselves, it strains your life. 

In addition to being trapped at home, caring for an elderly parent can be isolating. Friends may want to visit but find your parents’ care awkward and you unable to relax. Even your spouse and children may find that caring for them takes up too much of your time. 

You are doing enough, spending enough time with them, and you have a right to feel angry and frustrated. Not everyone can care for an elderly adult. Nursing homes assisted living facilities, and respite care exist to help seniors and adult children who do not have the means to care for their parents. When you realize you are drowning and your life is suffering, you will understand the need for senior care.

What to do when you can no longer care for an elderly parent?

You may realize you do not have the means to care for an elderly parent. You do not have the right equipment or upgrades to your home. Maybe your house may not be a single floor with room for a wheelchair or for someone who cannot handle stairs. No matter the reason, your home may not be the best or safest option for your parents. 

You can try in-home care, too, if you are not ready for them to move out but need extra help with their care. Other family members may be able to help, too, such as siblings, cousins, and adult grandchildren. However, if these options do not work for you, it’s time to send them to a care facility designed for their needs, health care, and safety concerns.

Why is taking care of an aging parent so stressful?

Stress is part of caring for elderly parents, whether you are the primary caregiver or part of a team of family members. Family members often struggle to discover their place in caring for aging parents, causing conflict. In addition, financial stress is often a factor in disagreements over care decisions, producing family conflict. 

Then there is the emotional strain on caretakers. Watching elderly parents decline and become less able to care for themselves is stressful for adult children and other family members and reminds them they will not live forever. In addition, when adult children care for elderly parents, their spouses and children get less of their time and attention, which causes family stress. 

Chronic stress, as we all know, can cause several health complications. Depression, anxiety, and weariness can result. It can cause hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. At some point, you need to prioritize your life to keep you and your family healthy too, and a nursing home or care facility can provide exceptional care to reduce your stress. 

Is it my responsibility to take care of my parents?

Your parents are not necessarily your responsibility; however, if possible, you should provide the best care for their senior years. Not everyone can afford or leave work to care for their parents, and that’s okay. Many other options are available, along with financial assistance to take the burden off of your shoulders. 

Because many children of older individuals do not live near their parents, being a family caregiver is not always possible. Other children of elderly parents take personal responsibility for their parents’ care. However, everyone’s connection with their parents is different. 

Boundaries are important in any relationship, and caring for your aging parent is not always in either of your best interests. Financial burden may also contribute to your inability to care for children, so the answer is not always straightforward. Discuss all your options with your siblings to find the right solution for your family when possible.

Can I be forced to care for an elderly parent?

Possibly, each state has its own regulations on elderly care and who is responsible. Some states require financially capable children to assist destitute parents or support just specified medical requirements. Other states do not require children of older individuals to participate in their care. For states without these laws, the choice to care for parents is your choice.

Are you legally responsible for your parents?

Laws pertaining to son’s and daughter’s responsibility laws are currently in place in 27 states. In California, the filial support law states that “every adult child who, having the ability so to do, fails to provide necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical attendance for an indigent parent, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” However, these rules normally apply only to seniors who cannot afford the financial burden for adult children who can afford senior care.

What happens if I refuse to care for an aging parent?

In states without filial law, you can refuse to care for an elderly parent. However, you may want to consider the emotional ramifications that not caring for your parents will take on your emotional health. Overall, the answer is complicated and depends on the state you live in and your personal opinions on the ethical aspect of caring for aging parents.

Final Thoughts

Caring for an elderly parent can leave adult children lonely, stressed, and trapped. Other options exist to keep your promises to your parents to care for them, including in-home care, respite care, and assisted living facilities. Stellar Care can help you with the burden and stress of caring for your parents. Call today and find out how we can help your family.

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