In surveys, the overwhelming majority of seniors express a preference for aging in place. But as we grow older, physical and/or cognitive decline can make aging in place difficult. Support from family caregivers and professional elder care services can reduce those difficulties. But if decline becomes severe, you might need to consider alternatives, like having your parent come live with you. Elder Care & Personal Boundaries: 5 Tips for When Parents Move In
Having a parent move in with your family can make it easier to tend to their elder care needs and improve their overall quality of life. But it can also lead to issues with personal boundaries. In caregiving relationships, boundaries are key to quality care and healthy family dynamics, so it’s important that firm boundaries are set and respected. Here are five tips on how to make this happen.
Caring for an elderly loved one can wreak havoc on your schedule. That’s true when your mom or dad lives separate from you and your family, but it’s an even bigger issue when you’re living in the same space. Without a regular routine in place, caregiving responsibilities can start to dominate your life. If you’re always “on call” for when your loved one needs assistance, or if you’re performing a bunch of small jobs throughout the day, it can start to feel like you never have time to yourself.
To avoid this, develop an elder care routine that allows you to set aside time for yourself. Set firm boundaries regarding your “off hours” and when it’s appropriate for your loved one to ask for assistance outside of their elder care routine.
When your mom or dad moves home for elder care, boundaries around personal space can become as much of an issue as boundaries around personal time. A new family member will dramatically alter the way your home functions. If you haven’t planned for this change, it could create points of friction between you and your loved one and between your loved one and other members of your family.
If you have the square footage to do so, make sure that your loved one not only has their own bedroom, but also their own living space. Usually, this means a comfortable chair, their own TV, and any other items that they enjoy using on a regular basis. This way, you can steer clear of family disputes or resentments over use of common space.
Boundaries can’t be respected if they aren’t clearly stated in the first place. That’s something many family elder care providers learn the hard way. Nobody wants to lay down the law with a parent, especially when mom or dad is suffering from poor health. As a result, many family caregivers stay silent — even as they notice personal boundaries erode and collapse.
While keeping quiet can help you avoid short-term awkwardness and discomfort, it will do you no favors in the long run. Failure to set and clearly communicate boundaries will quickly lead to resentment and can result in family caregivers overextending themselves. Relationships break down, caregivers deteriorate, and the quality of elder care suffers.
Most family caregivers worry about whether or not their loved one will respect their personal boundaries around elder care. But when it comes to respecting boundaries, there’s someone else you need to worry about: yourself.
Family elder care providers are notoriously bad at respecting their own self-stated boundaries. No matter how overwhelmed they become, they feel compelled to sacrifice their personal time and privacy at a moment’s notice.
The result, more often than not, is a downward spiral. Family elder care providers develop severe caregiver stress. Their personal well-being suffers, as does the quality of care they provide. Low-quality care causes their loved one’s well-being to suffer, exacerbating their need for elder care, and the cycle continues.
Far too many family caregivers are their loved one’s only source of elder care. In these cases, it’s almost impossible to maintain personal boundaries, especially as your loved one’s care needs increase. To prevent this, try to get other members of your family involved with caregiving. If elder care responsibilities start to encroach on your personal time and privacy, you’ll have other caregivers who can help shoulder the burden of care.
If family members are unavailable — or unwilling — to lend a helping hand, professional elder care services may be a better option. Many elder care agencies provide respite care on a part-time basis, which allows family caregivers to maintain healthy lives away from care. By hiring an elder care agency, you can ensure scheduled private time on a daily or weekly basis: one of the best ways to ensure your boundaries are respected.
If caregiving is making it hard to maintain personal boundaries and privacy? Your local Visiting Angels® can help. Call 800-365-4189 today or find your local Visiting Angels office to learn more about elder care services in your area.
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Visiting Angels is a national, private duty network of senior care agencies. We are proud to be the nation’s leading provider of non-medical at home care services. With our elder care services, seniors can remain independent and live safely at home. Our senior care services include Social Care, Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Care, End of Life Care, Companion Care, Private Duty Care, care to prevent hospital readmission, and so much more.
Compassionate, dignified at home senior care is close to home when you connect with your local Visiting Angels office by calling 800-365-4189.View All Articles