WHAT ABOUT ME
"I was not prepared for how much my life would change when I became my Dad's care giver."
Care Managers are special people. They are loving, strong, driven, and full of endless energy. They are willing to accept these responsibilities and the price that comes with it. When our mother was diagnosed with cancer, I was fortunate that my employer allowed me to maintain a flexible schedule while she was receiving treatment. However, this is not the case with every company; especially those with less than 50 employees. Employers with more than 50 employees offer a time off benefit under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows an employee up to 13 weeks of time off. But what happens when mom or dad's illness or situation goes beyond 13 weeks? Now, they require full-time care. How do I care for my parent and jungle the relationships with my husband/spouse/family and what about me?
No one will understand the challenges you face as a Care Giver, unless they've been through it. You will turn to your friends for support but they will not be able to relate. They want to have a "girls night out" or have a spa day. They just won't understand that this is no longer part of your life now. You are the Care Giver of your parent now. Every day is stressful with unexpected challenges, having someone to vent with, support or even words of encouragement is sometimes what you need-don't expect to find it from your friends.
My sister and I understand and have been through it all. We no longer felt a connection with our friends. We felt so alone in the process, but you don't have to! Our sister website -AgingParentsMarketplace.com is all about finding solutions to your challenges while caring for your loved one and making connections with other Care Givers just like you when you attend one of our Seminars, Workshops and/or Retreats.
Today, there are more women leaving the workforce to care for an elderly parent than women who are leaving it to have children. Typically, women who leave the workforce to have children will eventually return to it within several months. However, women
caring for an elderly parent may be out of the workforce for several years.
Leaving the workforce is a life changing decision, for those of us in this role as Care Manager, with many long term impacts; but sometimes it is the only choice. However,
it possible to maintain a full-time job while caring for an elderly parent. It is possible if your employer permits a flexible work schedule or the opportunity to telecommute. Speak to your supervisor to about what arrangements might be available. But what if there is not an option? When my Dad moved in with my husband and I, I turned to Home Helper Services. Senior Centers are another great options. (Visit Aging and Recovering in Place for more on this subject. Also, check out our Blog.)
According to statistics offered by the Bucks County Area on Aging, Care Managers/ Givers spend on average $5000 out of their own pocket when caring for another individual. Although Aging In Place or Home Care is the least expensive Elder Care Option, it comes at an expense. Expenses come in the form of Home Help, Medications, Home Modifications, Care Products, etc. Insurance will not cover many of these expenses.
Can I get paid for what I am doing. There is nothing wrong with expecting to be paid for the help you provide. An Estate Planning attorney will be able to help address this with your and your parents.
At some point, the time will come to take a serious look at your parents financial situation. Is there a home involved? Are there investments? Is there any savings? Before making any major transactions with your parents finances, you should consult with an Estate Planning Attorney. There may be laws in your state (Pennsylvania is one of them) that apply which may affect certain long-term decisions if and when your parents need to enter a Skilled Nursing Facility. Please consult with an Estate Planning Attorney who will guide you through this process.
When my Dad moved in with my husband and I, I was not prepared for how my world would change. Visit our Blog to read more about this part of our journey. As a Care Manager, it is important to make time for your spouse/partner. However, finding the time is the bigger challenge. Make it a priority to take at least an hour out of your day to reconnect as a a couple. Maybe it is at the end of the day, after your parent goes to bed. Maybe it is a lunch date during the day. Maybe it is a walk or sitting on the back deck. Even the smallest effort will have a big impact.
The Care Manager is on duty all the time, but sometimes you need to catch your breath. It does not make you a bad person for needing or wanting to take a few minutes of the the day to reset your spirit. There are many ways to go about this; from exercising, to talking a short walk, to reading a chapter in a book, from listening to music, or to meditation. You just have to find the right thing for you.
You may also find strength and encouragement from others just like you in this role of the Care Manager. Remember, you are not alone. Stay Connected with other Care Managers.
According to the Bucks County Area on Aging, 50% of Care Managers/Givers end up in depression and 60% of Care Managers/Givers die before the person they care for. When the living arrangement does not work for you and your parents anymore, it may be time to seek other professional resources.
There may also come a time when you revisit this living arrangement with your siblings and your parents. It may be that your parent move in with another sibling. It may be that your parent considers moving to a Care Facility. As much as we love our parents, it is important to work with everyone involved to make the best decisions possible; including the ones in the role of Care Manager.
"50% of Care Managers/Care Givers end up in depression."
"On average, Care Managers/Care Givers spend $5000 a year of their own money."
"60% of Care Managers/Care Givers die before the person they are caring for."
"Here to help Care Givers to overcome your challenges using our Formula For Success."
You are not alone!
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Visit our Marketplace to find businesses and professional services who are ready to help you on this Journey with your aging parents. Join our Online Community so you won't have to go through this process alone and if you need more help.