Taking care of senior parents is an age-old responsibility that adults typically have to face and handle. For the most part, it is a given that grown children will be the primary caregivers for their elderly parents. Today, adult children of senior citizens often bear the brunt of providing long-term care for their aging parents.
The numbers back up the importance of taking care of one’s senior parents: according to AARP (formerly known as the American Association Of Retired Persons), nearly 80 percent of people over 65 years old have at least one chronic condition or disability. Moreover, recent studies suggest that older adults living alone need support from family members more than ever due to rising mortality rates among seniors. Furthermore, statistics show that as life expectancy increases worldwide, more people over 65 will require long-term care services in the coming years—a situation presents challenges and opportunities for families with elderly members.
Statistics also indicate that adult children are increasingly becoming responsible for caring for elderly parents: according to data from Pew Research Center in 2019, about 40 percent of adults aged 40–59 in America were providing some financial or practical support for their aging parent(s). Moreover, The National Alliance For Caregiving estimates suggests that roughly 34 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers for their family members—most of whom take on full-time roles looking after senior citizens.
What many fail to consider is that taking care of an elderly parent can be taxing, both financially and emotionally. It’s not easy for adult children to bear this burden—often, they will have to make tough decisions about their own lives to take on the daunting task of providing care for their senior parents. Here are a few adjustments you must anticipate when caring for an aging parent.
Your Finances Will Take a Hit
Being a responsible adult prioritizing survival can be challenging enough for the average person. When given the responsibility of looking after a senior parent, the financial implications can be overwhelming. With additional medical expenses for seniors, adult children may have to divert resources from other areas in their life—such as retirement funds or college savings accounts—to care for their parents. Moreover, adult children may sacrifice job opportunities or take on extra hours at work to make ends meet and ensure their parents get adequate care.
You might benefit from getting health insurance to cover long-term care when responsible for your aging parent’s health. Taking advantage of government programs like Medicaid or Medicare may also help. Emergency funds are also advised for unexpected hospital visits and other medical expenses.
Your Social Life Will Change
Caring for a senior parent can be physically and emotionally exhausting. As a result, adult children who look after their elderly parents may find it challenging to make time for other activities, such as going out with friends or engaging in leisure activities. Even if you can manage caring for your parent while still having some semblance of social life, you may still find that your relationships with friends and family change due to time constraints.
You might not have the time for friends and family you used to when caring for seniors. Nurturing relationships with those closest to you becomes challenging when all your energy is focused on caring for your parents. Unfortunately, it might be too much for you when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. When that time comes, it might be essential to get a home healthcare agency to step in and take over for a while.
You May Have to Find Creative Solutions
When taking care of an elderly parent, adult children may have to make difficult decisions when it comes to housing and lifestyle choices. For instance, you might have to move them into your home or find other creative solutions—such as assisted living facilities—to ensure they get the support they need. You may also have to take on specific tasks such as managing financial affairs, helping with transportation, or providing emotional care.
These decisions can be emotionally draining but necessary when caring for a senior parent. When making these decisions, weighing all the options available and determining what best suits your and your aging parent’s needs is essential. It is also wise to consult with other family members, medical personnel, and professionals who can help you make the best decision.
Caring for an elderly parent is no easy task. It requires a lot of time, sacrifice, and resources—all of which may take away from the life you once had. However, it also comes with its rewards, such as feeling like you’ve made a positive contribution to your family and having the satisfaction that comes from making a difference in someone’s life. And although it will be challenging at times, being able to provide care for an elderly parent can be incredibly rewarding.