People choose to care for their elderly parents for many reasons: love, loyalty, and a sense of obligation to return all the years of caring the parents provided. It seems like a natural choice to make, but some people end up feeling trapped caring for an elderly parent.
They may also feel terribly guilty for feeling this way. But it’s a very common feeling for caregivers. There’s also plenty of help for those who need support in getting through the difficult times that go hand-in-hand with caring for an elderly parent.
Why People May Feel Trapped Caring for an Elderly Parent
Becoming a caregiver can impact people in a variety of ways. See if you recognize yourself in any of the following examples.
Caregiving is time consuming. And the demands on your time tend to increase as the weeks and months pass and you take on more chores and tasks. The average time spent providing caregiving averages about 24 hours per week – in other words, equivalent to a part-time job. Also, most caregiving lasts for four years, and sometimes can go on for decades.
Loss of Money
Most caregivers end up having to cut back on what they spend for themselves. This can include meals out, vacations, entertainment, and even groceries and doctor visits. Whatever the case, you may find yourself with the added stress of juggling bills to make ends meet.
Physical Health Issues
The body keeps score of the stress you feel. Some of the signs of physical problems experienced by stressed-out caregivers include the following.
- Chronic, extreme fatigue
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Large weight loss or gain
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty relaxing, even during down time
Mental Health Issues
This can take many forms, although anxiety and depression are among the most common. This is something also experienced by those who spend a great deal of time alone, isolated from others. Of course, your relationship with your mom or dad might contribute to feeling trapped when caring for an elderly parent. If you had difficulties in the past, they can have an impact on the current situation.
Less Time for a Social Life
You may have spent a great deal of time with friends in the past, but now it’s difficult to find time to get away to enjoy time together. Or you may simply be too tired to do some of the things you once did. Caregivers tend to isolate and feel lonely. However, it’s important to spend time with someone who understands you. Losing your social life can have a big impact on physical and mental health.
What To Do If You Feel Trapped Caring for an Elderly Parent
This first step is to acknowledge you are having issues and that you deserve the chance to make things better, both for yourself and your elderly parents. It won’t help them or you if signs of trouble are not addressed.
AARP suggests that caregivers look to delegate tasks if they feel overwhelmed. “Stepping up to a caregiving responsibility does not necessarily mean indentured servitude,” AARP wrote on its site. “The most resilient caregivers are those who decide which caregiving tasks they can tackle themselves, and which others require a second pair of hands (or more).”
Caregivers also can seek support from nonprofit organizations such as Hope Grows, which offers many different programs and services to help caregivers better manage their lives. Hope Grows also recently opened the Iris Respite House, a unique bed and breakfast that extends the organization’s mission of inspiring hope through nature and empowering caregivers to seek wellness of mind, body, and spirit.
Caregivers may also want to explore getting professional help of some kind, including in-home care or adult daycare. On a more practical, day-to-day basis, caregivers should find time to take daily breaks, get out into nature, and make time for friends and social activities that allow them some time for themselves.