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Caregivers need to know their own needs and limits

When you were a child, your parents provided everything you needed. From taking you to get your hair cut to helping you figure out your hopes for the future, the guidance of your parents helped shaped you into the person you are today. Now, as an adult, you find that your aging parents are in need of support and help from you.

In many cases, people in their middle age years will find themselves "sandwiched" between caring for teenage children and their ailing parents. There are many responsibilities and considerations for those who accept the taxing and often stressful position of caregiver for an elderly parent. Still, helping your parents in the last years of their lives can be a rewarding and meaningful experience for many.

Know your physical and financial limits

It's never easy to know exactly where to draw the line between what you can do and what you need help for. It's best to take steps as soon as possible to plan for the mental and physical decline of your aging parents. If they require constant help and support for most functions, if you need to keep working or if you have medical conditions that prevent you from providing care, such as lifting them, it may be time to consider a nursing care facility. You can't help anyone if you end up injured or impoverished in your attempt to provide care to your parents.

If your parents haven't already taken steps to prepare for potential long-term care or the need for Medicaid, it may not be too late. Medicaid planning services can protect assets for your other parent if one needs extensive care. It can also protect your inheritance from getting used up to pay for a nursing home. You also don't want to have to finance medical costs out of your own pocket if your parents don't have adequate assets to secure care.

Don't forget how critical self-care is when helping others

When your whole life seems to revolve around other people, including your parents and your children, it's easy to let your own needs end up on the back burner. Everything from going to a doctor for a physical to taking a daily shower can end up seeming less important than providing for the needs of others. However, this can leave you drained and unable to provide the support and love your children and parents will need.

Make sure you take the time to eat properly, exercise frequently and provide for your own health needs. Self care is critical to your ability to remain an effective caregiver. Schedule some quiet time for yourself every day, if possible, even if all you do is watch an episode of your favorite television show.

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