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When It's Time to Rethink Your Caregiving

You may be blessed to have a caregiving situation where you're able to manage your family life and care for your mom or dad until his or her death. If you are able to pull together a support system that nurtures both you and your parent, you'll long remember these days as having given your mom a gift. You may, however, have done all of this and then reach a point when you physically and mentally cannot provide the level of care your parent needs. In fact, in some instances, it may not be safe for you to provide the care, and you'll be causing more harm than good.

Senior Alert

If you're reaching a point where you feel yourself "going down"-- you've become isolated from family and friends, you've been sick, your children feel estranged from you, you're feeling depressed, anxious and pulled in all directions--it's time to re-think your decision to be a caregiver. Call a family meeting and talk to a professional to help you assess the situation. You've got to seek help.

Sometimes, your family doctor or another health care professional can help you see more clearly what you need to do. There are some excellent nursing homes that can provide top-flight care in a very dignified way. Your Guide to Interviewing and Inspecting an Assisted Living Facility provides you with the guidance to find a good home. Many people are living much longer these days with complicated conditions that require sophisticated care that may simply be beyond your capabilities. These actually become the easier, less guilt-ridden decisions. The tough decisions often center on cost when you can't afford the home care that your parent demands. 'Round-the-clock care can get very expensive, even if the care your parent needs is provided by those who make just above the minimum wage (for example, a companion service).

I had hoped to keep Grandma with us until the end. However, she began to have ministrokes, and we had to invest in round-the-clock care which was running us $80 a day (18 years ago). She had also become very combative, paranoid, and incontinent. Even as I write this, I still feel some guilt and the need to justify letting her go. Yet, I know it was for the best for her and us. The home we placed her in was excellent and within just a few miles. I was able to visit her every few days with the baby. And I was with her the day she died reciting her favorite psalm.

It's never easy making these kinds of life choices. There's plenty of could haves, would haves, and ifs in life. Stick with what is and what you need to do. If your motives are in the best interest of both of you-- you'll do just fine.

More on: Aging Parents

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents © 2001 by Linda Colvin Rhodes, Ed.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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