Jenny K asks:
"I live right down the street from my mother and try to help her as much as I can. She has always been very independent but needs more and more help nowadays. She can forget to take her medicine, to throw away expired food, and she worries me when she takes a shower. She expects me to come over several times a day to help her but I am getting worn out as I have my own children and work full time. I want to ask for help but my mom makes me feel guilty if I can’t help her. Do you have any suggestions to help me balance everything?"
Family caregivers becoming worn out is extremely common. The problem is that if you become drained, then you will be not be of any help to your family. Your children and your mother need you to be happy, healthy, and alert. Asking for help does not mean that you are weak, it means you are human. It doesn’t sound like your mother needs all day care or someone breathing down her neck so to speak but a part time caregiver could really do the trick.
Many times people are opposed to “hired help” because they feel they are still too independent for those types of services. It can be a benefit to make it clear to mom that it’s not about her needing help, it’s about you needing help. Explaining that the caregiver will only be there for a short time and that you will still come over as much as possible could help as well. You can also explain that there are no long term contracts when it comes to home care, if she isn’t happy you can try another option. For all you know, your mother may end up wanting to spend more time with her new helper! The key here is for you to not feel like you are letting anyone down. Yes, it is our duty to help our parents as they age but not at the expense of your own health. Taking some responsibility off your plate can allow for more time to do fun things with mom so you can make enjoyable memories together.
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*All information is meant as advice based on personal experience and should not be referred to as medical data.