By Angela L. Braden
With Babyboomers climbing into their senior years, many of their adult children are finding themselves not only caring for their young children, but also faced with the challenge of taking care of one or both of their aging parents. Finding oneself sandwiched between the responsibilities of being a “good” daughter or son, in addition to being a “good” parent can create a great deal of physical and emotional stress. That stress can lead to strained familial relationships, regretful financial decisions, and physical illness of the caregiver.
Let’s face it… Because of the health disparities in the African American community, many African Americans become ill in their senior years. Often these illnesses result in a person requiring extensive medical services and costly prescription drugs. Sometimes, it becomes necessary for adult children of these aging parents to stand in the gap when their parent does not have the funds to cover the cost of these expensive medical services, supplies, and prescriptions. And unfortunately, since many African Americans find themselves living check to check, helping Mama or Daddy requires juggling, or just sometimes having to say “no.” Of course, saying no to your parent does nothing less than causes certain individuals to be overwhelmed with guilt, frustration, and even anger.
In addition to aging parents needing money to help their means stretch to meet the end, they sometimes need time in the form of a ride to the store, help cleaning the house, or just a visit from their adult children and grandchildren. But because many individuals spread themselves so thin in the time and energy realm, giving Mama and Daddy time in the evenings once they get off work or on the weekends, is quite difficult.
So, how does one manage to care for an aging parent, take care of the kids, satisfy the needs of their significant other, pay the bills at their house and some of the bills at their parents’ house, and squeeze in some time to take care of themselves without going completely insane? It’s not easy! However, it is possible. Here are some tips to help you manage if you find yourself challenged with the responsibility of taking care of your parent in their senior years.
1. Consult with a social worker, other family, and close friends to learn about any community resources that your parent can access to help with the cost of household bills, medical services, and prescription drugs. Often, there is help for seniors that go untapped because we don’t know they exist. Learn about these services and access them.
2. Be sure to inform your siblings about what it is your parent’s needs are. Do not assume that your parent has already told them or asked them for help. Tell your sibling you need their help financially or with fulfilling household chores at the parent’s home.
3. Help your parent create a financial budget that is appropriate. Perhaps there is money that can be reallocated to better serve your parent and their emerging needs as a senior.
4. Remember to take time for yourself! If you don’t take care of yourself, you will breakdown physically, mentally, and spiritually. That means you need to organize time you can rest, get physical exercise, and engage in social opportunities.
5. Become comfortable with saying no. Sometimes no is necessary. Sometimes no is the only option. No is tough to say, but it can save you from a lot of heartache.
6. Forgive yourself for not being superman or superwoman. I know it’s hard to believe, but you cannot save the world. Just do what you can.
Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger, college educator; and motivational speaker. To learn more about how this blind woman is helping audiences all over the country see their way to their personal best, visit www.bradenspeaks.com.