by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel
In everything, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 NASB
According to an AARP study, an estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months (about 18% of the population.) In six out of ten cases, the reason for the care is a long- term issue and not a short- term recovery situation. I am in this caregiving situation right now as I write this article.
Proverbs 16:31 remind of the value of the elderly: “Gray hair is a crown of glory…”
Ephesians 6:2 echoes the Old Testament command to “honor your father and mother”.
When you find yourself in a “someone has to move” in order to keep the one you love safe and well cared for, here are a few questions to begin the discussion:
What are the desires of each party? (What do the aging parent(s) and the caregiving child and their spouse hope to have happen?) It is important to have these conversations to listen to the heart of each side of the equation. Many families welcome the aging parents into their homes, often because they already have a strong close bond and relationship. If children are still in that home, then it is prudent to ask if the children can manage the stress of adding an aging member to the household. If you are already caring for a special needs child, have a mate deployed, or are dealing with a prodigal child, pray through what it means to bring a family member who needs care into your home. Consider if your marriage will survive your role as caregiver.
What is the financial situation of the aging parent? What is the financial situation of the care giver’s family?
In some cases, the parent has planned ahead and has agreed to a move to a graduated care facility where they begin in an apartment with a little oversight from trained professionals, with the ability to graduate up to increasing oversight, care and meals, and finally up to a skilled nursing facility. These facilities are often very nice but can be very expensive – and if this type of care is selected, someone must foot the bill.
What move would keep the caregiver healthier?
Caregiving is rigorous. Initially nearly 50% of caregivers describe themselves as in strong physical health, but those who have been the caregiver for more than 5 years, only 20% describe themselves as healthy and strong. In some families, the children rotate in to help a parent who is staying in his or her original home, other times, it is mom or dad that travels to various relatives so the caregiving is shared. The health of the aging parent is a major factor in these decisions, but the health of those extending care needs to be taken into consideration as well.
In our case, Bill’s dad is frail in body and his mom is frail in mind. We knew Bill’s dad would be easy to integrate into our life and home. Bill’s mother on the other hand, refuses to move—or even talk about moving. Because our ministry of writing and speaking means we can live most anywhere, we moved near his folks to offer daily help. However, what we have learned from other care giving friends who have gone before, each day is a new day, and God will lead step by step along the way.
About the author: Pam Farrel. author of 50+ books, is an international speaker and co-director (with her husband, Bill) of Love-Wise.com. Her newest book is Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authors Jean E Jones and Karl Dornacher) from Harvest House.
Pam and Bill are the bestselling authors of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti(and small group DVD series); Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti; and the teen version: Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti.
Join the conversation: Are you in the middle of elderly care? Please share any tips you can give us!