{Old School} Five Things You Need to Know about Eldercare

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.


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  1. Such a wonderful post. It’s true–caring for an elderly parent (or two) is very isolating. My friends were well intentioned, but only one truly understood because she had been through it. It’s even more exhausting when also caring for babies and trying to maintain a semblance of normal for the rest of the family. Your advice to eat well is so important–I literally gained 40 pounds when caring for my parents, because I didn’t care for myself–fast food, no exercise, stress eating. Now, two years after they’ve passed, I’m finally working on healing myself (30 lbs. gone, yea!) But the emotional struggles will be with me for a long time yet, I fear. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I did enough for them. Hugs to you as you care for your mom, but also cheers for this exciting time in your life as an author!

    • I’ve packed on a few pounds myself–but not too bad. I really need to up my physical activity though because the 40s are here and they really do a number on the metabolism.

      My sympathies to you for the loss of your parents.

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