As an only child, you have a responsibility to care for your parents as they age, without anyone to share this responsibility with it can prove challenging. You may have to take them to appointments, help with jobs around the house and be available to see them and talk to them.
You may also have the responsibility for deciding to move them into a nursing home. This can be emotional, especially with the rise of nursing home abuse claims and the phasing out of fall prevention alarms in nursing homes. You may be one of the only people visiting them and monitoring their welfare.
Luckily, there are things you can do to make it a little easier.
Be prepared for different eventualities such as them becoming ill. Be open and honest with each other and talk about their preferences for care. You may both need to face that they are aging. You may also want to make financial preparations for medical care or nursing care.
Ask hard questions
Some elderly people don’t want to be a burden and might even neglect to keep you updated about their health. However, it is important that you have all of the information and sometimes you may need to ask some tough questions. Consider asking if they have a will and what they would like to happen when they pass away. You should also ask about their health and check that they are taking their medications and seeing their doctor.
Find community services
There are adult day centers and clubs where elderly people can get out and meet people and learn new things. Keeping active will keep them healthy for longer and it will take some pressure off you to know that they have things to fill their week with.
Put yourself first
Balancing your own adult life including keeping friends, doing well at work and looking after a house and perhaps even a family is important. You need to find a balance between caring for your relatives and taking care of yourself.
Be sure to take time out to yourself to relax and do things you enjoy. If you are happier you will be better able to care for someone else’s needs. It is not selfish to put yourself first, it’s necessary.
Know your rights
The Family Medical Leave Act is a federal law that allows you to take leave from work to care for a family member.
If you need to leave work to care for their immediate needs then that’s ok. But try and put preventative measures in place to prevent this from happening.
Know when it’s time to get support
At some point, you may need to hire carers to come and see them. And eventually, you may need to move them into a home. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do it all on your own. When the time comes and you need support, take it. It will be best for everyone involved.
This is a collaborative post. All views and text are my own.