Our Turn to Parent

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-04-21
  • Publisher: Random House Canada
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No one can anticipate what it will be like for you the day you discover you must become a caregiver for one or both of your parents. As you begin to care for them, you will be filled with questions and looking for advice.Our Turn to Parentshows you how to work with your parent to become their caregiver and their champion, and it provides the tools you need to make decisions and feel confident that you are doing right by your aging parents. With stories from real lives, it also offers honest and personal anecdotes about surviving these trying times.Our Turn to Parentis the best and most thorough caregivers' guide available in Canada today. Our Turn to Parentoffers practical advice on deciding when you need to step in and help developing the caregiver relationship with your parents discussing with the family your parents' hopes and plans for the future adapting the home so that it is safe and comfortable for their evolving needs finding appropriate care and help in your community choosing the right place for your parent to live should independent living no longer be possible navigating the medical system organizing your parents' finances before they become incapacitated making clear your parents' personal care and end-of-life wishes caring for yourself "I have found the last few years to be the most challenging in my life and the most fulfilling.... I have laughed with my mother and cried with my mother, but most of all I have been there for her as she was for me as I was growing up."A Caregiver's Story

Author Biography

Barbara Dunn has an honours B.A. in Psychology/Mass Communications and a Bachelor of Design. She is currently working as a graphic designer and helps care for her parents. She lives in Oakville. Linda Scott has an Honours B.A. in English/Mass Communications. She works as a marketing director and lives in Richmond Hill with her husband and was caregiver to her mother. This is their first book.


You As Caregiver

We have talked about many of the issues you may encounter in caring for your parents. Now let’s focus on you, the caregiver. You are managing many responsibilities, personally and probably professionally, and balancing the needs of many people. You may wonder where the time you used to have for yourself has gone. It’s not uncommon to experience feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, stress, worry and doubt. You are making important decisions, dealing with family personalities, managing limited amounts of time, manoeuvreing through administrative red tape, taking care of your family and continuing to work. You are also trying to come to terms with the fact that your parents are in need and may be in pain, and may even be coming to the end of their lives.

If you are to be successful as a caregiver in safeguarding your parents’ health, you must look after yourself mentally and physically. Strive for a balance between your role as a caregiver and the other roles in your life. In this chapter we’ll talk about

• how being a caregiver develops your personal skills
• how the stress of caregiving can affect your health
• how good time management skills can help you and your family
• how to balance home, work and caregiving responsibilities
• support options through work and government assistance
• ways you can look after yourself
• the importance of fostering personal support systems
• the role of respite care.

Being the Caregiver

Being the caregiver for your aging parents requires not only your time but also the ability to develop new skills and draw on skills that you may already use in your job or family life. You need to be able to plan ahead, manage your time, and identify and assemble information to accomplish tasks. How much support you receive in your role as caregiver can greatly affect how you feel about the responsibilities. If you’re getting practical assistance and emotional encouragement from family and/or the community, you will perceive your role as caregiver in a more positive way.

Your reasons for having taken on the role also affect the type of caregiver you are and how you will perceive the tasks you perform for your parents. For many of us our feelings of love for our parents and the knowledge that they sacrificed for us gives us a sense of responsibility for our parents. We make the choice, even if unconsciously in the early stages, because of everything we feel our parents have given us throughout our lives. But some adult children do not have a strong relationship with their parents and do the caregiving out of a sense of guilt and obligation. Regardless of your reason for taking on this important task, you need to look after yourself in order to care for your parents.

Dealing with Stress

We encounter varying degrees of stress throughout our lives, and being able to identify it is the start to understanding what we need to do to get through it. Stress is not only mentally draining but can result in physical symptoms as well, manifesting itself as headache, upset stomach, disrupted sleep, anger at others, confusion and anxiety. Stress can also make it harder for you to fight off disease, because it lowers your immune system. And it can drain your energy. Whether the tasks you face are small, like picking up a prescription for your parents during a hectic day, or large, like previewing long-term care facilities, as a caregiver you should learn to identify the signs of stress.

Self-awareness is important. Trust yourself and your abilities. Know yourself and your reactions so that you can recognize when you are reaching your limit. Acknowledge the feelings that you are having as you look after your parents. Don’t put off making decisions as this can increase stress. And don’t put off doing tasks,

Excerpted from Our Turn to Parent: Shared Experiences and Practical Advice on Caring for Aging Parents in Canada by Linda Scott, Barbara Dunn
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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