I am the primary babysitter for my grandkids while their parents work. Though I cherish spending time with them, they are young children with a lot of energy and emotional needs. Somedays I never sit down – and I’m exhausted by the time their parents are done with work.
When I’m not looking after them, I’m balancing daily visits to my mother who is at the beginning stages of a battle with dementia. It’s another emotionally draining role that I am responsible for. On some days I come home and cry because it all feels like too much.
It’s a lot as it is, and the back to school season is making it even harder because I’ll be taking on more responsibility with the children’s school work and afterschool activities.
Can Crossroads help me?
Dear Balancing Act,
Thank you for reaching out. I'm sorry to hear that you feel overwhelmed with everything that is happening right now in your life. We at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care are here to help.
As a social worker on the Crossroads team, I see firsthand what families and individuals are going through. Recently, I visited someone who is in a similar situation – balancing kids and a caregiving role. What I saw from that person was her unwavering need to be strong. She even verbalized this to me several times.
"I need to hold it together. I have to be strong for my dad – and I have my son that needs me to be strong too,” she said to me.
What I told this person and what I'm now telling you is that it's okay to not be strong. Constantly feeling like you need to be just adds pressure to the situation that you don't always need to add. You already feel so much stress. You don't have to be perfect. You can have emotions – you can cry, you can be sad, you can lean on others in your life.
I know this may be hard to understand, but you are doing your best. That’s what counts.
Having an aging parent with dementia is particularly challenging. Jumping into a caregiving role is even more challenging. The thing with dementia is that it’s so unpredictable. All of my patients with dementia are different. I understand that family members and loved ones want to know what to expect when they visit them. They want to know what's going to happen. But you can’t ever know or predict what each day will bring with someone experiencing dementia.
Everybody has a different reaction to this condition that impacts memory, thinking, and social ability. Some older adults with dementia shut down and lose their personality. Some have behavioral outbursts that manifest in things like anger and stress.
Seeing this happen to your parent can be confusing, and there is so much grief that comes along with this. You may not have lost your parent to death, but you have lost them to a change in personality. That’s something that’s not talked about enough – the complex grief that comes with losing someone's personality. You haven’t physically lost your mother, but you’ve lost the parent who raised and loved you.
I hope you know that our Crossroads team is here to help you through all of the things you are experiencing. Many patients and families don't have a full understanding of what hospice can provide. Crossroads helps family members just like you provide the very best care for their loved one by supplementing the loving care that you are already giving her with end-of-life care professionals who can recognize the signs of pain and unmanaged symptoms and provide the physical, emotional, and spiritual support needed to help both of you get the most out of this experience.
Another thing to consider in this challenging time is simply taking some time to rest. At Crossroads, we understand that the role of the caregiver is a demanding one – and that caregiver burnout happens. It takes so much out of you to show up every day, and it happens to many of us.
So when you have a loved one on hospice care with Crossroads, we can help you access the benefit of respite care. Respite care means Crossroads can facilitate facility respite care at a nearby nursing home or similar facility for a few days, so you can take a break and take care of yourself.
We can handle the logistics of getting your loved one the care they need, while you recharge and take care of yourself. We know this can have immediate benefits for both the caregivers and the patient.
So I would urge you to give us a call and learn more about how hospice and respite care can help you. Allow yourself a break. There is no guilt in stepping away for a few days to recharge.
When you call on Crossroads, you will have an entire team of nurses, social workers, chaplains, counselors, and doctors to lean on. There is no need to balance this all on your own. We are here for you, so let us know how we can help.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care
For more information on hospice eligibility requirements, give us a call at 888-564-3405.
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