Tips for Working Moms Caring for Aging Parents

By Claire Bradshaw

With an increasing percentage of the population living longer, more women find themselves caring for their elderly parents while juggling careers and immediate family responsibilities. AARP estimates the average unpaid caregiver is a 46-year-old woman working outside the home. These caregivers face many challenges, including financial, physical, and emotional stress. However, with some careful planning and organization, these stresses can be reduced. The following are some practical tips for working moms in the so-called “sandwich generation” who are trying to balance their career with caring for their parents as well as their children.

Where to live
The first decision that needs to be made is where the elderly parent will live. If the parent is able to care for themselves with little help, they may be able to remain in their own residence with some minor assistance from family. This may be the ideal situation for parent and adult child, as it enables the parent to maintain their independence and continue to live in familiar surroundings.

Safety improvements
Whether the parent lives in their own home with minor assistance or moves in with an adult child, the residence will need some changes to make it safer. The following are some adaptations that can make life easier for an elderly person and give caregivers peace of mind:

  • Ramps—Cover all steps leading into the house with ramps. If a wheelchair is used, make sure the ramps are wide enough to accommodate it.
  • Grab bars—These can be set up along toilets and in showers to give support to the person getting up or stepping in. Newer models look less institutional and do not require tearing out tiles for installation.
  • Raised toilet and shower seats—These can make the bathroom safer and more comfortable for someone with limited mobility.
  • Assisted technology—If there is more than one level to the house, an electric stairlift can make it easier for someone with mobility issues to get from one floor to the other and reduce the risk of falls.
  • There’s an app—Using a smart phone application and strategically placed sensors, caregivers can check on their parents throughout the day without infringing on their privacy. A secure website also provides periodic status updates.
Dealing with stress
Caring for an aging parent on a day-to-day basis can take a toll. Seeking assistance will help take some of the pressure off.
  • Work—The financial situation may not make it possible to quit work, and you shouldn’t have to give up the career you love, but finding a balance can be difficult. Check with your employer to review options, such as a flexible schedule or performing some duties from home.
  • Enlist relatives—If a parent is living on their own but needs help with meals, shopping, or medication, set up a schedule in which duties are rotated among family members. The change in menu and company will be appreciated.
  • Hire help—Private aides can be hired to provide care for a few hours a day to give you time for errands, work, or just a break.
  • Support groups—Seek out support groups in the area made up of people going through the same things. This may also lead to new ideas.
Choosing how to care for aging parents is a personal decision for both the parents and the main caregiver, as well as other siblings who may not live nearby. There is no single best way to do it, but there are a variety of options that can help make the situation easier. Balancing the wishes of the parent with the responsibilities of the caregiver is essential.

This is a guest post from Claire Bradshaw, a writer and website owner who knows the challenges of balancing work and family life. Claire contributes to a website that offers helpful tips about straight stairlifts for people who have difficulties using their stairs. She has personal experience of the benefits that home adaptations can bring and believes it is important for elderly people to remain in their own homes as long as they can.