Child caregivers are the most common type of caregiver in the United States with about 34.2 million Americans currently providing care for a family member or loved one over the age of 50, according to the National Alliance for Caregivers. Becoming your parent’s caregiver can be a very demanding responsibility, both physically and mentally. It often includes advocating for your loved one, coordinating providers, and performing medical care and personal tasks at home. The below are a handful of questions you should ask yourself and your siblings before taking on the responsibility of becoming your parent’s caregiver.
Question #1: Am I prepared to be a caregiver for your parent?
This may seem like a no-brainer but when caught in the moment of realizing that it’s time to move forward with a care plan for our parent, this question and our readiness may easily be pushed under the rug. This is also a very broad question but the very first thing you should ask yourself while breaking down if you are physically prepared, if your schedule is prepared, if you financially prepared, and if you are mentally prepared! Being prepared for the role of a sole caregiver means taking a lot of different factors into consideration. When asking yourself this question, look at your availability and daily schedule. Make sure that your parents care, can fit into your availability without creating added stressors of overlap in your current responsibilities. Layout your schedule next to your parent’s schedule to see how everything will fit together and adjust where needed before taking on the commitment of becoming a caregiver for your parent. Also, be sure to check if you are mentally prepared to be your parent’s caregiver. Being a caregiver of a loved one can take an emotional toll on us and it’s crucial that we are in a healthy mental place before taking on this responsibility.
After breaking down question #1, here are 6 other very beneficial questions to ask yourself before taking on this role.
Question #2: Am I capable of taking care of my parent without assistance? Or do I need to hire home health care as well?
This is also a question that your parent’s doctor can help you answer! Analyze the required tasks your parent needs to help you determine if this is a responsibility you can handle on your own or if maybe sharing the role with a sibling or hiring home health care would be beneficial.
Question #3: Do I have the social support and resources I’m going to need?
Consider joining a support group prior to becoming a caregiver for your parent and surround yourself with people who will lift you up and be there for you on the hardest days.
Question #4: If my parent has dementia and can no longer filter their behavior, will I be able to cope with potentially hurtful words or actions?
Question #5: Will I be able to allow myself to accept help and take breaks?
Question #6: Will I be able to cut back on work responsibilities during those times when I need to care for my parent?
After asking yourself these questions, ask the other members of your household and family if they think you will be able to fulfill the answers you gave yourself. Be sure to take advantage of the many resources available and if you do decide you are ready to take on the responsibility of being your parent’s caregiver, give yourself grace and seek assistance from your family, friends, and support groups during difficult times. You don’t have to bear this fulfilling yet challenging responsibility alone!