1. Eldercare-giving is like the cult of parenthood: Inside it, you can’t explain it. Outside it, you can’t understand it. Friends without ailing parents will not understand your constant stress, worry and preoccupation. At times, it can be as isolating as having a newborn when all your friends are still sipping after-work cocktails. In other words, it can be dang lonely in here.
2. Caregiving is a full-time responsibility even if your elder is in a nursing home facility. Accept it. Don’t be afraid to get help for the stickier, trickier parts like estate planning and Medicaid applications. Hire an eldercare attorney if necessary.
3. When your elder is sick, the stress and worry will mount. Turn to prayer, meditation, exercise, humor, a whole foods diet–whatever it takes to keep you sane.
4. Anticipatory grief can be difficult to bear. Find someone with whom to share your troubles. Nursing home and assisted living staff can be helpful if you feel that your circle doesn’t “get” what you’re going through.
5. Mistakes will be made by you, the medical team and even your elder. Your job is to be a respected advocate who knows when to choose her battles. A cheerful disposition, the occasional round of pizza for the staff, and a kind “thank you” will go a long way to keeping everyone engaged with helping your loved one.