More Americans than ever before now act as family caregivers for their aging parents. At least 35 million people are expected to provide unpaid care to someone over the age of 50 in 2017. This workload falls hardest on adult children who are tasked caring for their moms and their dads. Caregiving Paradox of Quality Time with Mom or Dad
Because caregiving means more time with mom or dad, many family caregivers believe that it also means more quality time with mom or dad. Unfortunately, more time doesn’t equal more quality time when you’re a family caregiver. Instead, acting as a family caregiver often leads to a kind of caregiving paradox. Even though you’re spending more time with your mom or dad, the amount of quality time you enjoy actually decreases.
The good news? It’s possible to reclaim those cherished moments with your mom or dad. Here’s how.
More Time Doesn’t Equal More Quality Time
There are a number of ways that caregiving can have a negative impact on the amount of quality time adult children spend with their elderly parents.
Most obviously, caregiving impacts how you spend time with your loved one. Many caregiving activities actually limit one-on-one interaction. If you’re doing mom’s laundry, she might be the focus of your time, but you aren’t having a close conversation. If you’re running to the grocery store or pharmacy for dad, you might be caring for him, but you’re not sharing the same space.
Caregiving also changes when you’re spending time with your parent and how that time fits into your schedule. On a regular visit, you can make the trip whenever it’s convenient. But if you’re acting as a caregiver, when you visit is primarily based around your parent’s needs. This can create serious knots in your schedule, increase your time spent commuting, and impact your stress levels on visits.
Crucially, caregiving can have a negative effect on child-parent relationships. Adult children who act as unpaid caregivers for their parents often become overstressed, overworked, and overwhelmed. Many find it difficult to grapple with the upended roles. Often, children feel like they have to parent their own mom or dad. This can lead to feelings of resentment, making it difficult for you and your parent to enjoy time in one another’s company.
Reclaim Quality Time with Your Loved One
Have you found that caring for your mom or dad has made it harder for you to spend quality time with them? This doesn’t have to be the case. There are strategies and resources that you can use to create more one-on-one time and make the time you spend together more enjoyable.
- Mindfulness strategies can help you cope with the stress that caregiving creates, making it easier to enjoy the time that you spend with your mom or dad.
- Caregiver support groups give you a community where you can lean on the assistance and encouragement of others in a similar situation.
- If you have siblings or other family members who could assist with aspects of care, do not hesitate to reach out and ask for their support.
Another common solution is professional home care services. A professional caregiver can handle shopping and errands, provide respite care, and shoulder care responsibilities alongside family caregivers. In many cases, family members choose to hire caregivers full-time. This way, you can go back to simply being your parent’s son or daughter, without all the worries and burdens of care.
“Getting that family dynamic back is something that can be really important,” says Larry Meigs, CEO and President of Visiting Angels. “A lot of family caregivers don’t realize how big a change these services can make to their family relationships.”
Meigs notes that many family caregivers are unsure if professional home care is right for their loved one. To help families get a fuller sense of what they can expect from caregiver services, many providers offer free in-home assessments, which come with no obligation to proceed with care. Families can contact Visiting Angels for a no-cost care assessment by calling 800-365-4189 or by contacting their local Visiting Angels office directly.
Caregiving Paradox of Quality Time with Mom or Dad
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