As roles reverse and kids take care of their parents, it may be time for a tough talk about care
The worry and concern for Steve Muirhead's mom spiked after she had an accident. That worry will most likely grow as she continues to age.
"My mother fell down the other day so I'm I was worried about her falling and hitting her head or breaking something. So we're always there assessing if they might need some extra help," he said.
She's not the only person that Muirhead is caring for. He's also watching out for his mother-in-law and his mother-in-law's sister. The list is long of things to do, but it's a labor of love.
"I'm doing all the maintenance around their houses because they all own their own homes," Muirhead said. "I'm doing their maintenance, helping them out with lifting heavy things, moving things around, moving furniture so they can clean it. Changing water filters. Whatever they need. That's what I'm there for."
It's a situation that more family members are finding themselves in. As many reach the crest of the middle age slot of their lives, they're also caring more for their aging relatives. It may take an hour out of your day, but it means the world to the person your helping.
It's a crucial step that social workers say is necessary.
"It's the time of the year where we often see our loved ones more often than we usually do throughout the year. So often we go to the door and pick them up but maybe we don't always go into the home when we're going to get together so this is important to do that," said Tracey Proghovnick, a social worker.
Going inside and assessing how they're living. From tripping hazards in the house to appliances and faucets being left on, is their safety at risk? Thanksgiving dinner is less than four weeks away. Visiting your elderly relatives is a change to see whether they're ok. If they're not, the toughest talk you'll ever have maybe on the horizon.
"Adult children are still the child, your parent is still your parent. So having that role reversal come into play is very challenging for the adult child and what I always recommend to those children is to make your loved one apart of the conversation. Avoid telling them what you think they should do," Proghovnick said. "It's important to bring them into the conversation and make sure they have as much control as possible in the future whether it be moving to a senior community, whether it be bringing some services into the home."
Giving back, no matter how hard it may be. This is the advice for those taking care of others.
"As a caregiver, get help for yourself. There are support groups, there are therapists, there are people out there in your situation taking care of three older adults as Steve is and if you don't take care of yourself you will also not be able to take care of your loved ones," said Proghovnick.