Many adult children with parents needing assistance with daily activities of living have parents who are reluctant to accept “outside” help. Often these children find themselves in the position of being the family caregiver even though it may negatively affect their own lives.

10 million caregivers aged 50+ who care for their parents lose an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pensions, retirement funds, and benefits. The total costs are higher for women, who lose an estimated $324,044 due to caregiving, compared to men at $283,716. [MetLife Mature Market Group, National Alliance for Caregiving, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging. (2010)].

family caregiver with parentsThese adult children knowingly and willing make sacrifices, such as the one listed above. Sadly there are countless statistics on the detrimental effects of family caregiving. Among them are depression, health issues, and loss of longevity. When confronted with such statistics one could question the sanity of choosing to be a family caregiver for your parents.

However, numerous family caregivers also report positive benefits of providing care. These range from better health from increased activity and a positive sense of wellbeing from helping their loved one remain independent. Several studies have come out supporting these accounts. What these studies have shown is that people with a good support network have positive outcomes. The support network helps family caregivers from becoming overwhelmed by the tasks of providing care to their parents.

So even if your parent insists he or she doesn’t need any outside assistance, as a family caregiver, you do. However, the truth is your parent also excels with exposure to a support network.

According to the AARP, the number of Americans who say they’re lonely has doubled since 1980 from 20 percent to 40. About one-third of citizens over the age of 65 are living alone and half of those over 85 do so and many of them are socially isolated.

lonely older adultSocial isolation has been linked to immune system issues, depression, disrupted sleep, higher levels of inflammation and stress hormones, and even increased risk of heart disease and stroke.  All of these issues are serious. Some of them, such as depression, can lead to other problems like cognitive decline and dementia which contribute further to a cycle of poor health and isolation.  All told, according to a recent study at Brigham Young University involving 3.4 million people, isolation and loneliness showed about a 30 percent increased likelihood of dying from any cause over the next seven years. This effect was most pronounced in middle-aged people and carried over into the aging population.

You know your parent’s health or mobility issues can affect whether he gets out and about. A changing social life because getting out is difficult, or a loss of friendships, through death, can also increase the sense of loneliness in your parent. As your parent ages, it is important that their world expands rather than contracts upon them. Bringing in professional caregivers does that and often has a significant positive impact on an older adult.

professional caregiver reading book to older adultYour parent doesn’t have to ask a professional caregiver to take them to the hairdresser, doctor, church or weekly bingo game. It’s the caregiver’s role. They are also available whenever the older adult wants to take time to look at old pictures, discuss the news of the day, plant some flowers, or go out to dinner or a movie. It’s important for all adults to be socially active and to participate in activities they enjoy. Having a professional caregiver available ensures that an older adult’s world stays vibrant and fun. Unless the family caregiver is retired, the sheer constraints of time prevent her from successfully providing the interaction and activities a healthy social life requires.

professional caregiver serving foodAdditionally a professional caregiver adds to the family caregiver’s support network by being available to assist your parent with many tasks. A professional caregiver can cook for your parent, do dishes, pick up prescriptions, go grocery shopping, do laundry, ironing and many other tasks of daily living. Utilizing a professional caregiver to augment some of the tasks you do for your parent provides you with more free time to participate in fun activities with your parent. Reducing your task load also reduces stress, and we all know stress is not healthy.

All that said, and the facts being what they are, Covenant Home Care understands how difficult it can be to get your parent to accept outside help. One of the ways we can help with this is through our In Home Assessment. Schedule one today so we can explain what we offer. There is no obligation to hire us, and no pressure on your parent to accept us. It is a great opportunity for your parent, and you, to explore options and possibilities. To learn more about our in home care assessment process you can read the Assessment Interview and In Home Care Assessment. You may also want to read about the Hidden Value of Companion Care.