Janice has to arrange transportation to activities, drive to doctor appointments and follow up on the recommendations, do shopping for clothes and food and prepare meals and pay bills. She hasn’t been able to take a vacation in three years. She is always worried about their wellbeing. If you think I am talking about Janice’s children you are wrong. She does this for her parent. Does this sound like you? Did you get the children flown and grown only to do the same kinds of things for your parent?
There are people and resources to help you. This is a choice you make. If you wish to make your parents’ lives your full time endeavor so be it. If you are not an only child, you have siblings who can do some of these tasks even if they work full time. They can pay bills or make appointments on their lunch hour once a week. If you are an only child, or have siblings out of the picture, you still have options.
First, ask yourself if your parents can do some of these things on their own. They may not be able to do everything but maybe you can have them do parts of some tasks, such as make a shopping list or make a hair appointment. Don’t assume they are totally dependent on you unless they have severe physical or mental handicaps. Talk to them about how they feel they can help. Give them a small task that you can correct or do later if you think they are unrealistic in their assessment of their abilities. If they are, it will be evident once they try. If they are able to complete the task, it is an accomplishment for them and will ease your burden.
Secondly, seek out organizations to help. There are many companies that service every need of older adults that meet their social and physical needs. Some companies do tasks or service everyone needs, not just the elderly, but they are tailored to help older adults. The Extra Daughter, for example, has a handyman service for those over 65 years of age. These services do cost money and it may be too expensive. If so, seek out your local Area on Aging. They will have resources for you.
It is possible that your parents need so much care that they are in the wrong setting. At home care is difficult once a person’s needs become too great. In that case, you will want to look into long term care options.
Only you can determine if the amount of time you spend doing tasks for your parent or relative is reasonable for you. Do not only consider the time you spend, but your mental capacity to handle that and other things in your life.