When you are a family caregiver for your aging parent, you have agreed to give your time, energy, efforts, and resources to meet your parent’s needs. This doesn’t mean, however, that you are required to do everything, or that you no longer have control over your life. Establishing boundaries with your aging parent is a healthy and beneficial way to ensure this care arrangement works for both of you. With these boundaries in place and respected, both of you know what to expect, what is and is not acceptable, and what resources you will need to fill any care gaps or other requirements. This results in less stress and anxiety, as well as a better care relationship with your parent.
Let these tips help you talk to your parent about your caregiver boundaries:
- Start as early in the care arrangement as possible. Establishing these boundaries before you have given your parent much care makes them easier to implement and reduces conflict.
- Avoid embarrassing your parent. It is likely your boundaries will involve care tasks you are uncomfortable handling. If you are uncomfortable with tasks such as bathing or toileting, explain this in a way that is not shameful or embarrassing to your parent. Focus on your own limitations rather than your parent’s needs or functional challenges.
- Be firm about them. Make sure your parent understands that you are set with these boundaries, and that they are important to you. They are not suggestions or requests, but absolute guidelines to structure your care relationship. Of course, flexibility is critical and you may sometimes need to adapt your boundaries, but you should go into this discussion firm so your parent understands their need to respect your decisions.
- Consider your life as well as care efforts. Your boundaries are not just about the care efforts you give your parent. Also think about your life outside of your care efforts for your parent. This should include times when your parent can call you, and when they should wait unless it is an emergency, who they can share information with, and the types of requests you will handle and what they should do on their own, among others.
Home care is not just for the extremely elderly, or those who need extensive assistance with many health issues or limitations. In fact, as a family caregiver you should know having an in-home senior care services provider as part of your care approach for your elderly parent can be beneficial for them even if they only need mild to moderate assistance, have just recently been diagnosed with a health issue, or are still largely independent. Because these care services are completely customized, you and your parent work together to select the types of care tasks that are right for them. For example, if they are no longer able to drive, reliable transportation from a care provider can allow them to stay more active and maintain more independence. Help with tasks around the home such as laundry, dishes, and tidying help your parent to save energy to use for things they enjoy. Medication reminders can help them to stay compliant and get the most benefit from the prescriptions and guidelines from their doctor.