Just over a month ago, one of our cats was diagnosed with insulin deficiency. The vet spoke for quite a time about the consequences of taking on the caregiving duties myself, as opposed to putting the cat down, because it would otherwise be in terminal decline. Insulin molecules join hands with glucose molecules to knock on the door of the cells of your body, and are not allowed in on their own. So with insufficient amounts of insulin, the body will atrophy until it can no longer continue without being able to absorb food. It took me a little while of thought, but I am glad in retrospect, because I am at peace with the commitment to providing two injections a day, possibly for as long as she lives. Her recovery has been steady and totally rewarding.
There is clearly no connection with putting your parent down! The connection is whether you are ready to become a caregiver for your elderly parent and understanding the consequences. Given the rising cost of nursing homes, this is most likely going to become your role.
- You need to ask yourself whether you will have the available time while filling your roles at home, at work and in the community, to coordinate providers, assist with communication, mediate with medical professionals and respond to disasters that my occur in the life of your parent. You may need to provide transport and food, manage prescription medicines and medical appointments and perhaps provide shelter in the future.
- Ask yourself whether you are physically capable of taking care of your parent, taking into account the possibility of lifting and bathing. Do you need to ask for help from an organisation such as Senior Support?
- If your parent has dementia, are you prepared for the possible symptom of their not being able to filter their behaviour? Being able to cope with hurtful words or actions is not as easy as it sounds, given your family connection.
- The commitment to caregiving is bound to affect your physical and mental health. If you find that you are not prepared for this, then you can talk to Senior Support.
- You will not always be available, and if life throws a curved ball, do you have the social support who can stand in for you? Would you allow yourself to accept help to be able to take a break?
- Are you ready for the financial costs of caregiving, when your parent finds their resources dwindling?
- Does your employer allow you time away from work to attend to the requirements of your responsibilities?
If you are still ready to become a caregiver, you should always remember that there is only so much that you can do yourself, and that Senior Support specialises in this field.