Learning to Live Together…Again: 5 Tips for Caregiving Family Style

January 29, 2010 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

In 2000, the Census said that 3.9 million Americans lived in a mult-gen household. New statistics now have that number in 2009 at 6 million–and the fastest growing trend is that adult children are moving back into their parent’s home fueled by the recent economic dip. Caregiving family style has seen a huge surge. Why? Because it makes sense. Most of us, (80% according to the National Family Caregiving Alliance) would like to stay in our own homes and age in place for as long as possible. When that’s no longer possible, many people would rather bring their elders into their homes, or move in with them as opposed to placing them in a care facility.

Learning to live together again comes with its own challenges:

I’m afraid my mom will try to take over.

My dad likes to order everyone around–that’s going to get on my nerves when it’s in my home.

Will my parent respect my privacy?

Will I be “on call” 24/7? When will I get a break?

Remember the old westerns when a bunch of runaway cows charge through town and are virtually unstoppable? That’s what it’ll be like if you don’t take the time now to put up some fences beforehand. Our fears can overwhelm us.

Ask yourself what are your biggest concerns? Plan now. Be open and honest and talk about t before you start packing boxes. Starting off with healthy boundaries is easier than trying to put them in place once there’s been a stampede.

5 Tips to Ease into Living Together…Again:

  • Hold back a little during the honeymoon phase. It’s easy to be all sentimental in the beginning and watch TV side-by-side every single night, and spend every waking minute together. The problem is, once your loved one gets used to the “gold star treatment,” they might expect you do it from now on. What happens when  you want to go out for dinner with a friend, or just feel like curling up in the bed with a new book? Yes, there will be times when they are bored and lonely, and you can’t always be their entertainment committee.
  • Continue to do things for yourself and with others. Sign up for a continuing ed class. Join the church or community choir. Go to the gym or take ballroom dance lessons. While you can, go out at least one week night. Why? Because there will come a day when you can’t. There are seasons of caregiving, and giving your elder a chance to be alone, and be okay with it, is important. You need to be something other than a caregiver–so stay as active as you can.
  • Every one needs to have “alone time.” Go to your room an hour before you go to sleep.  Read, watch tv, do some yoga, create a nightly health routine. In the morning–same thing. Don’t rush out to start your day. We teach people how to treat us, so teach everyone in your family to respect each other’s privacy. Declutter your bedroom, paint one wall a warm color and get a new bedspread. Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Do the same for your elder’s room. Show them by example how to be alone and be content.
  • Expect a few squabbles and hurt feelings. They come–they go, but know th families are resilient. Yes, at times you’re going to get on each other’s nerves. Say your peace, then kiss and make up. You need each other. Choose to focus on the good and let the bad slip away.
  • Get additional help: take advantage of your community’s resources–they’ re there–for you! Call your local adult day-care center and see if your elder would like to go and be with people their own age one day a week. They go shopping, to movies, get mani’s and pedi’s, and get to make new friends. Even if they’re shy or don’t think they’ll like it, urge them to try it a few weeks. While you’re there, ask about other services in the community such as van or shuttle services, senior trips, free or low-cost home sitters, and respite care. Remember: you’re the team captain, so gather your team so you can pace yourself.

By starting off on the right note, having things to do other than caregiving,, respecting each other’s privacy, creating a team of care, and learning to let go of life’s little hurts, it’s actually possible to live together…again..and even enjoy it!

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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