It’s striking to hear how often a conversation begins these days with “How are you parents doing?”.   We used to ask about one another’s children.  Now we ask about aging parents.  Many of us are in the midst of caregiving for our parents.

The Range of Caregiving is Very Broad

Caregiving is a label that can mean many things when helping older parents.  It can be minor help around a parent’s home.  Not terribly time consuming but very helpful to a parent who may want to avoid dealing with workers who are strangers.   Over time, helping parents will usually become more time consuming.  It will include activities such as helping with shopping or assisting with financial matters.

It’s a Marathon – Don’t Burn out Early

Most adult children will significantly under estimate the time involved in caregiving.  Try to pace yourself when assisting your parents.  If you burn out early you may find it very difficult to cope with added chores as their health changes.  Most people want to remain in their home for as long as possible.  Often this can happen only if there are others willing to assist with regular chores.  Most caregivers already have busy lives and the stress of assisting a parent can be a strain on the caregiver’s health.  One way to manage this increasing work load is to talk with your parents about the need to find some additional paid support.  After the initial resistance, most parents are willing to accept help with housework or yard maintenance.

What the Future Holds

Eldercare will be one of the greatest challenges facing Canadian families.  Significant policy changes are needed including those involving the Canada Health Act and the Compassionate Leave Policy.   Consider seeking support from groups such as your employer’s ‘employee assistance program’ or a non-profit group such as the Alzheimer’s Society.  Your aging parent is counting on you to care for your own health too!